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 massive discs. This has implications for the alignment of circumbinary planets.
We present hydrodynamical simulations to model the accretion flow from a polar circumbinary disc on to a high eccentricity (e = 0.78) binary star system with near unity mass ratio (q = 0.83), as a model for binary HD 98800 BaBb. We compare the polar circumbinary disc accretion flow with the previously studied coplanar case. In the coplanar case, the circumbinary disc becomes eccentric and the accretion alternates from being dominant on to one binary member to the other. For the polar disc case involving a highly eccentric binary, we find that the circumbinary disc retains its initially low eccentricity and that the primary star accretion rate is always about the same as the secondary star accretion rate. Recent observations of the binary HD 98800 BaBb, which has a polar circumbinary disc, have been used to determine the value of the $\rm H\,\alpha$ flux from the brighter component. From this value, we infer that the accretion rate is much lower than for typical T Tauri stars. The eccentric orbit of the outer companion HD 98800 A increases the accretion rate on to HD 98800 B by ∼20 per cent after each periastron passage. Our hydrodynamical simulations are unable to explain such a low accretion rate unless the disc viscosity parameter is very small, α < 10−5. Additional observations of this system would be useful to check on this low accretion rate.more » « less
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Publisher / Repository:
- Oxford University Press
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 1249-1257
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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