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Title: Polar alignment of a massive retrograde circumbinary disc around an eccentric binary

A test particle orbit around an eccentric binary has two stationary states in which there is no nodal precession: coplanar and polar. Nodal precession of a misaligned test particle orbit centres on one of these stationary states. A low-mass circumbinary disc undergoes the same precession and moves towards one of these states through dissipation within the disc. For a massive particle orbit, the stationary polar alignment occurs at an inclination less than 90°, which is the prograde-polar stationary inclination. A sufficiently high angular momentum particle has an additional higher inclination stationary state, the retrograde-polar stationary inclination. Misaligned particle orbits close to the retrograde-polar stationary inclination are not nested like the orbits close to the other stationary points. We investigate the evolution of a gas disc that begins close to the retrograde-polar stationary inclination. With hydrodynamical disc simulations, we find that the disc moves through the unnested crescent shape precession orbits and eventually moves towards the prograde-polar stationary inclination, thus increasing the parameter space over which circumbinary discs move towards polar alignment. If protoplanetary discs form with an isotropic orientation relative to the binary orbit, then polar discs may be more common than coplanar discs around eccentric binaries, even for more » massive discs. This has implications for the alignment of circumbinary planets.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 732-743
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. Abstract

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