Sunday, August 2, 2015

How Dust Collects into Rings in Protoplanetary Disks

Toroidal vortices and the conglomeration of dust into rings in protoplanetary discs


Loren-Aguilar et al


We identify a new hydrodynamical instability in protoplanetary discs that may arise due to variations in the dust-to-gas ratio and may lead to concentration of dust grains within a disc. The instability can arise due to dust settling, which produces a vertical compositional entropy gradient. The entropy gradient drives a baroclinic instability that is capable of creating toroidal gas vortices that gather dust into rings. Such dust rings are potentially observable via continuum emission of the dust or scattered light. Indeed, this instability may offer an explanation for the rings recently observed in the discs around the young stars HL Tau and TW Hya that does not rely on clearing by protoplanets. The instability may also have wider ramifications, potentially aiding dust agglomeration, altering the radial migration of larger planetesimals, and modifying angular momentum transport within a disc.

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