Journal Article

On corotation torques, horseshoe drag and the possibility of sustained stalled or outward protoplanetary migration

S.-J. Paardekooper and J. C. B. Papaloizou

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 394, issue 4, pages 2283-2296
Published in print April 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
On corotation torques, horseshoe drag and the possibility of sustained stalled or outward protoplanetary migration

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We study the torque on low-mass protoplanets on fixed circular orbits, embedded in a protoplanetary disc in the isothermal limit. We consider a wide range of surface density distributions including cases where the surface density increases smoothly outwards. We perform both linear disc response calculations and non-linear numerical simulations. We consider a large range of viscosities, including the inviscid limit, as well as a range of protoplanet mass ratios, with special emphasis on the co-orbital region and the corotation torque acting between disc and protoplanet.

For low-mass protoplanets and large viscosity, the corotation torque behaves as expected from linear theory. However, when the viscosity becomes small enough to enable horseshoe turns to occur, the linear corotation torque exists only temporarily after insertion of a planet into the disc, being replaced by the horseshoe drag first discussed by Ward. This happens after a time that is equal to the horseshoe libration period reduced by a factor amounting to about twice the disc aspect ratio. This torque scales with the radial gradient of specific vorticity, as does the linear torque, but we find it to be many times larger. If the viscosity is large enough for viscous diffusion across the co-orbital region to occur within a libration period, we find that the horseshoe drag may be sustained. If not, the corotation torque saturates leaving only the linear Lindblad torques. As the magnitude of the non-linear co-orbital torque (horseshoe drag) is always found to be larger than the linear torque, we find that the sign of the total torque may change even for mildly positive surface density gradients. In combination with a kinematic viscosity large enough to keep the torque from saturating, strong sustained deviations from linear theory and outward or stalled migration may occur in such cases.

Keywords: planets and satellites: formation; planetary systems: formation

Journal Article.  10300 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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