Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Stability of Vortices in Protoplanetary Disks

On the local stability of vortices in differentially rotating discs


Railton et al


In order to circumvent the loss of solid material through radial drift towards the central star, the trapping of dust inside persistent vortices in protoplanetary discs has often been suggested as a process that can eventually lead to planetesimal formation. Although a few special cases have been discussed, exhaustive studies of possible quasi-steady configurations available for dust-laden vortices and their stability have yet to be undertaken, thus their viability or otherwise as locations for the gravitational instability to take hold and seed planet formation is unclear. In this paper we generalise and extend the well known Kida solution to obtain a series of steady state solutions with varying vorticity and dust density distributions in their cores, in the limit of perfectly coupled dust and gas. We then present a local stability analysis of these configurations, considering perturbations localised on streamlines. Typical parametric instabilities found have growthrates of 0.05ΩP, where ΩP is the angular velocity at the centre of the vortex. Models with density excess can exhibit many narrow parametric instability bands while those with a concentrated vorticity source display internal shear which significantly affects their stability. However, the existence of these parametric instabilities may not necessarily prevent the possibility of dust accumulation in vortices.

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