Inclination Evolution of Protoplanetary Disks Around Eccentric Binaries
Zanazzi et al
It is usually thought that viscous torque works to align a circumbinary disk with the binary's orbital plane. However, recent numerical simulations suggest that the disk may evolve to a configuration perpendicular to the binary orbit ("polar alignment") if the binary is eccentric and the initial disk-binary inclination is sufficiently large. We carry out a theoretical study on the long-term evolution of inclined disks around eccentric binaries, calculating the disk warp profile and dissipative torque acting on the disk. For disks with aspect ratio H/r larger than the viscosity parameter α, bending wave propagation effectively makes the disk precess as a quasi-rigid body, while viscosity acts on the disk warp and twist to drive secular evolution of the disk-binary inclination. We derive a simple analytic criterion (in terms of the binary eccentricity and initial disk orientation) for the disk to evolve toward polar alignment with the eccentric binary. For typical protoplanetary disk parameters, the timescale of the inclination evolution is shorter than the disk lifetime, suggesting that highly-inclined disks and planets may exist orbiting eccentric binaries.