Monday, October 6, 2014

The Circumbinary Disk of the Protostellar System L1551 NE

Angular Momentum Exchange by Gravitational Torques and Infall in the Circumbinary Disk of the Protostellar System L1551 NE


Takakuwa et al


We report the ALMA observation of the Class I binary protostellar system L1551 NE in the 0.9-mm continuum, C18O (3-2), and 13CO (3-2) lines at a ~1.6 times higher resolution and a ~6 times higher sensitivity than those of our previous SMA observations, which revealed a r ~300 AU-scale circumbinary disk in Keplerian rotation. The 0.9-mm continuum shows two opposing U-shaped brightenings in the circumbinary disk, and exhibits a depression between the circumbinary disk and the circumstellar disk of the primary protostar. The molecular lines trace non-axisymmetric deviations from Keplerian rotation in the circumbinary disk at higher velocities relative to the systemic velocity, where our previous SMA observations could not detect the lines. In addition, we detect inward motion along the minor axis of the circumbinary disk. To explain the newly-observed features, we performed a numerical simulation of gas orbits in a Roche potential tailored to the inferred properties of L1551 NE. The observed U-shaped dust features coincide with locations where gravitational torques from the central binary system are predicted to impart angular momentum to the circumbinary disk, producing shocks and hence density enhancements seen as a pair of spiral arms. The observed inward gas motion coincides with locations where angular momentum is predicted to be lowered by the gravitational torques. The good agreement between our observation and model indicates that gravitational torques from the binary stars constitute the primary driver for exchanging angular momentum so as to permit infall through the circumbinary disk of L1551 NE.

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