Saturday, March 28, 2015

Do Protoplanetary Disks Form With Vortices?

Are protoplanetary disks born with vortices? -- Rossby wave instability driven by protostellar infall


Bae et al


We carry out two-fluid, two-dimensional global hydrodynamic simulations to test whether protostellar infall can trigger Rossby wave instability (RWI) in protoplanetry disks. Our results show that infall can trigger the RWI and generate vortices near the outer edge of the mass landing on the disk (i.e. centrifugal radius). We find that the RWI is triggered under a variety of conditions, although the details depend on the disk parameters and the infall pattern. The common key feature of triggering the RWI is the steep radial gradient of the azimuthal velocity induced by the local increase in density at the outer edge of the infall region. Vortices form when the instability enters the nonlinear regime. In our standard model where self-gravity is neglected, vortices merge together to a single vortex within ∼20 local orbital times, and the merged vortex survives for the remaining duration of the calculation (less than 170 local orbital times). The vortex takes part in outward angular momentum transport, with a Reynolds stress of ≲10−2. Our two-fluid calculations show that vortices efficiently trap dust particles with stopping times of the order of the orbital time, locally enhancing the dust to gas ratio for particles of the appropriate size by a factor of ∼40 in our standard model. When self-gravity is considered, however, vortices tend to be impeded from merging and may eventually dissipate. We conclude it may well have that protoplanetary disks have favorable conditions for vortex formation during the protostellar infall phase, which might enhance early planetary core formation.

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