Saturday, January 3, 2015

Multiple Exoplanets can Produce Shallow Cavities in Protoplanetary Disks

Shallow Cavities in Multiple-Planet Systems


Duffell et al


Large cavities are often observed in protoplanetary disks, which might suggest the presence of planets opening gaps in the disk. Multiple planets are necessary to produce a wide cavity in the gas. However, multiple planets may also be a burden to the carving out of very deep gaps. When additional planets are added to the system, the time-dependent perturbations from these additional satellites can stir up gas in the gap, suppressing cavity opening. In this study, we perform two-dimensional numerical hydro calculations of gap opening for single and multiple planets, showing the effect that additional planets have on the gap depths. We show that multiple planets produce much shallower cavities than single planets, so that more massive planets are needed in the multiple-planet case to produce an equivalent gap depth as in the single-planet case. To deplete a gap by a factor of 100 for the parameters chosen in this study, one only requires Mp≈3.5MJ in the single-planet case, but much more massive planets, Mp≈7MJ are required in the multiple-planet case. This requirement of high-mass planets implies that such planets may be detectable in the next generation of direct imaging projects, in gaps whose depths are constrained to be sufficiently deep by ALMA.

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