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Title: Grid-based simulations of polar circumbinary discs: polar alignment and vortex formation

We describe the first grid-based simulations of the polar alignment of a circumbinary disc. We simulate the evolution of an inclined disc around an eccentric binary using the grid-based code athena++ . The use of a grid-based numerical code allows us to explore lower disc viscosities than have been examined in previous studies. We find that the disc aligns to a polar orientation when the α viscosity is high, while discs with lower viscosity nodally precess with little alignment over 1000 binary orbital periods. The time-scales for polar alignment and disc precession are compared as a function of disc viscosity, and are found to be in agreement with previous studies. At very low disc viscosities (e.g. α = 10−5), anticyclonic vortices are observed along the inner edge of the disc. These vortices can persist for thousands of binary orbits, creating azimuthally localized overdensities and multiple pairs of spiral arms. The vortex is formed at ∼3–4 times the binary semimajor axis, close to the inner edge of the disc, and orbits at roughly the local Keplerian speed. The presence of a vortex in the disc may play an important role in the evolution of circumbinary systems, such as driving episodic accretion more » and accelerating the formation of polar circumbinary planets.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 2138-2147
Oxford University Press
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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