Sunday, January 22, 2017

Long-Lived Dust Asymmetries at Dead Zone Edges in Protoplanetary Disks


Miranda et al


A number of transition disks exhibit significant azimuthal asymmetries in thermal dust emission. One possible origin for these asymmetries is dust trapping in vortices formed at the edges of dead zones. We carry out high resolution hydroydnamic simulations of this scenario, including the effects of dust feedback. We find that, although feedback weakens the vortices and slows down the process of dust accumulation, the dust distribution in the disk can nonetheless remain asymmetric for many thousands of orbits. We show that even after 104 orbits, a significant fraction of a disk lifetime, the dust is not dispersed into an axisymmetric ring, in contrast to the case of a vortex formed by a planet. This is because accumulation of mass at the dead zone edge constantly replenishes the vortex, preventing it from being fully destroyed. We produce synthetic dust emission images using our simulation results. We find that multiple small clumps of dust may be distributed azimuthally. These clumps, if not resolved from one another, appear as a single large feature. A defining characteristic of a disk with a dead zone edge is that an asymmetric feature is accompanied by a ring of dust located about twice as far from the central star.

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