Saturday, December 17, 2016

Non-axisymmetric instabilities in disks with imposed zonal flows


Vanon et al


We conduct a linear stability calculation of an ideal Keplerian flow on which a sinusoidal zonal flow is imposed. The analysis uses the shearing sheet model and is carried out both in isothermal and adiabatic conditions, with and without self-gravity (SG). In the non-SG regime a structure in the potential vorticity (PV) leads to a non-axisymmetric Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) instability; in the short-wavelength limit its growth rate agrees with the incompressible calculation by Lithwick (2007), which only considers perturbations elongated in the streamwise direction. The instability's strength is analysed as a function of the structure's properties, and zonal flows are found to be stable if their wavelength is ≳8H, where H is the disc's scale height, regardless of the value of the adiabatic index γ. The non-axisymmetric KH instability can operate in Rayleigh-stable conditions, and it therefore represents the limiting factor to the structure's properties. Introducing SG triggers a second non-axisymmetric instability, which is found to be located around a PV maximum, while the KH instability is linked to a PV minimum, as expected. In the adiabatic regime, the same gravitational instability is detected even when the structure is present only in the entropy (not in the PV) and the instability spreads to weaker SG conditions as the entropy structure's amplitude is increased. This eventually yields a non-axisymmetric instability in the non-SG regime, albeit of weak strength, localised around an entropy maximum.

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