Journal Article

Rayleigh adjustment of narrow barriers in protoplanetary discs

Chao-Chin Yang and Kristen Menou

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 402, issue 4, pages 2436-2440
Published in print March 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online March 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Rayleigh adjustment of narrow barriers in protoplanetary discs

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Sharp density features in protoplanetary discs, for instance at the edge of a magnetically dead zone, have recently been proposed as effective barriers to slow down or even stop the problematically fast migration of planetary cores into their central star. Density features on a radial scale approaching the disc vertical scaleheight might not exist, however, since they could be Rayleigh (or more generally Solberg–Høiland) unstable. Stability must be checked explicitly in one-dimensional viscous accretion disc models because these instabilities are artificially eliminated in the process of reducing the full set of axisymmetric equations. The disc thermodynamics, via the entropy stratification, and its vertical structure also influence stability when sharp density features are present. We propose the concept of Rayleigh adjustment for viscous disc models: any density feature that violates Rayleigh stability (or its generalization) should be diffused radially by hydrodynamical turbulence on a dynamical time-scale, approaching marginal stability in a quasi-continuous manner.

Keywords: accretion, accretion discs; hydrodynamics; instabilities; planetary systems: formation; planetary systems: protoplanetary discs

Journal Article.  3991 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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