skip to main content

Title: Physical models of streaming instabilities in protoplanetary discs
ABSTRACT We develop simple, physically motivated models for drag-induced dust–gas streaming instabilities, which are thought to be crucial for clumping grains to form planetesimals in protoplanetary discs. The models explain, based on the physics of gaseous epicyclic motion and dust–gas drag forces, the most important features of the streaming instability and its simple generalization, the disc settling instability. Some of the key properties explained by our models include the sudden change in the growth rate of the streaming instability when the dust-to-gas mass ratio surpasses one, the slow growth rate of the streaming instability compared to the settling instability for smaller grains, and the main physical processes underlying the growth of the most unstable modes in different regimes. As well as providing helpful simplified pictures for understanding the operation of an interesting and fundamental astrophysical fluid instability, our models may prove useful for analysing simulations and developing non-linear theories of planetesimal growth in discs.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range / eLocation ID:
1239 to 1251
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT The streaming instability is a fundamental process that can drive dust–gas dynamics and ultimately planetesimal formation in protoplanetary discs. As a linear instability, it has been shown that its growth with a distribution of dust sizes can be classified into two distinct regimes, fast- and slow-growth, depending on the dust-size distribution and the total dust-to-gas density ratio ϵ. Using numerical simulations of an unstratified disc, we bring three cases in different regimes into non-linear saturation. We find that the saturation states of the two fast-growth cases are similar to its single-species counterparts. The one with maximum dimensionless stopping time τs,max = 0.1 and ϵ = 2 drives turbulent vertical dust–gas vortices, while the other with τs,max = 2 and ϵ = 0.2 leads to radial traffic jams and filamentary structures of dust particles. The dust density distribution for the former is flat in low densities, while the one for the latter has a low-end cut-off. By contrast, the one slow-growth case results in a virtually quiescent state. Moreover, we find that in the fast-growth regime, significant dust segregation by size occurs, with large particles moving towards dense regions while small particles remain in the diffuse regions, and the mean radial drift of each dust species is appreciably altered from the (initial) drag-force equilibrium. The former effect may skew the spectral index derived from multiwavelength observations and change the initial size distribution of a pebble cloud for planetesimal formation. The latter along with turbulent diffusion may influence the radial transport and mixing of solid materials in young protoplanetary discs. 
    more » « less
  2. ABSTRACT We investigate the possibility of cosmic ray (CR) confinement by charged dust grains through resonant drag instabilities (RDIs). We perform magnetohydrodynamic particle-in-cell simulations of magnetized gas mixed with charged dust and cosmic rays, with the gyro-radii of dust and GeV CRs on ∼au scales fully resolved. As a first study, we focus on one type of RDI wherein charged grains drift super-Alfvénically, with Lorentz forces strongly dominating over drag forces. Dust grains are unstable to the RDIs and form concentrated columns and sheets, whose scale grows until saturating at the simulation box size. Initially perfectly streaming CRs are strongly scattered by RDI-excited Alfvén waves, with the growth rate of the CR perpendicular velocity components equaling the growth rate of magnetic field perturbations. These rates are well-predicted by analytic linear theory. CRs finally become isotropized and drift at least at ∼vA by unidirectional Alfvén waves excited by the RDIs, with a uniform distribution of the pitch angle cosine μ and a flat profile of the CR pitch angle diffusion coefficient Dμμ around μ = 0, without the ‘90○ pitch angle problem.’ With CR feedback on the gas included, Dμμ decreases by a factor of a few, indicating a lower CR scattering rate, because the backreaction on the RDI from the CR pressure adds extra wave damping, leading to lower quasi-steady-state scattering rates. Our study demonstrates that the dust-induced CR confinement can be very important under certain conditions, e.g. the dusty circumgalactic medium around quasars or superluminous galaxies. 
    more » « less
  3. null (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT A recent study suggests that the streaming instability, one of the leading mechanisms for driving the formation of planetesimals, may not be as efficient as previously thought. Under some disc conditions, the growth time-scale of the instability can be longer than the disc lifetime when multiple dust species are considered. To further explore this finding, we use both linear analysis and direct numerical simulations with gas fluid and dust particles to mutually validate and study the unstable modes of the instability in more detail. We extend the previously studied parameter space by one order of magnitude in both the range of the dust-size distribution [Ts, min, Ts, max] and the total solid-to-gas mass ratio ε and introduce a third dimension with the slope q of the size distribution. We find that the fast-growth regime and the slow-growth regime are distinctly separated in the ε–Ts, max space, while this boundary is not appreciably sensitive to q or Ts, min. With a wide range of dust sizes present in the disc (e.g. Ts, min ≲ 10−3), the growth rate in the slow-growth regime decreases as more dust species are considered. With a narrow range of dust sizes (e.g. Ts, max/Ts, min = 5), on the other hand, the growth rate in most of the ε–Ts, max space is converged with increasing dust species, but the fast and the slow growth regimes remain clearly separated. Moreover, it is not necessary that the largest dust species dominate the growth of the unstable modes, and the smaller dust species can affect the growth rate in a complicated way. In any case, we find that the fast-growth regime is bounded by ε ≳ 1 or Ts, max ≳ 1, which may represent the favourable conditions for planetesimal formation. 
    more » « less

    Rings and gaps are commonly observed in the dust continuum emission of young stellar discs. Previous studies have shown that substructures naturally develop in the weakly ionized gas of magnetized, non-ideal MHD discs. The gas rings are expected to trap large mm/cm-sized grains through pressure gradient-induced radial dust–gas drift. Using 2D (axisymmetric) MHD simulations that include ambipolar diffusion and dust grains of three representative sizes (1 mm, 3.3 mm, and 1 cm), we show that the grains indeed tend to drift radially relative to the gas towards the centres of the gas rings, at speeds much higher than in a smooth disc because of steeper pressure gradients. However, their spatial distribution is primarily controlled by meridional gas motions, which are typically much faster than the dust–gas drift. In particular, the grains that have settled near the mid-plane are carried rapidly inwards by a fast accretion stream to the inner edges of the gas rings, where they are lifted up by the gas flows diverted away from the mid-plane by a strong poloidal magnetic field. The flow pattern in our simulation provides an attractive explanation for the meridional flows recently inferred in HD 163296 and other discs, including both ‘collapsing’ regions where the gas near the disc surface converges towards the mid-plane and a disc wind. Our study highlights the prevalence of the potentially observable meridional flows associated with the gas substructure formation in non-ideal MHD discs and their crucial role in generating rings and gaps in dust.

    more » « less

    We study the linear growth and non-linear saturation of the ‘acoustic Resonant Drag Instability’ (RDI) when the dust grains, which drive the instability, have a wide, continuous spectrum of different sizes. This physics is generally applicable to dusty winds driven by radiation pressure, such as occurs around red-giant stars, star-forming regions, or active galactic nuclei. Depending on the physical size of the grains compared to the wavelength of the radiation field that drives the wind, two qualitatively different regimes emerge. In the case of grains that are larger than the radiation’s wavelength – termed the constant-drift regime – the grain’s equilibrium drift velocity through the gas is approximately independent of grain size, leading to strong correlations between differently sized grains that persist well into the saturated non-linear turbulence. For grains that are smaller than the radiation’s wavelength – termed the non-constant-drift regime – the linear instability grows more slowly than the single-grain-size RDI and only the larger grains exhibit RDI-like behaviour in the saturated state. A detailed study of grain clumping and grain–grain collisions shows that outflows in the constant-drift regime may be effective sites for grain growth through collisions, with large collision rates but low collision velocities.

    more » « less