Can dead zones create structures like a transition disk?

22 Oct 2016  ·  Pinilla Paola, Flock Mario, Ovelar Maria de Juan, Birnstiel Til ·

[Abridged] Regions of low ionisation where the activity of the magneto-rotational instability is suppressed, the so-called dead zones, have been suggested to explain gaps and asymmetries of transition disks. We investigate the gas and dust evolution simultaneously assuming simplified prescriptions for a dead zone and a magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) wind acting on the disk... We explore whether the resulting gas and dust distribution can create signatures similar to those observed in transition disks. For the dust evolution, we included the transport, growth, and fragmentation of dust particles. To compare with observations, we produced synthetic images in scattered optical light and in thermal emission at mm wavelengths. In all models with a dead zone, a bump in the gas surface density is produced that is able to efficiently trap large particles ($\gtrsim 1$ mm) at the outer edge of the dead zone. The gas bump reaches an amplitude of a factor of $\sim5$, which can be enhanced by the presence of an MHD wind that removes mass from the inner disk. While our 1D simulations suggest that such a structure can be present only for $\sim$1 Myr, the structure may be maintained for a longer time when more realistic 2D/3D simulations are performed. In the synthetic images, gap-like low-emission regions are seen at scattered light and in thermal emission at mm wavelengths, as previously predicted in the case of planet-disk interaction. As a conclusion, main signatures of transition disks can be reproduced by assuming a dead zone in the disk, such as gap-like structure in scattered light and millimetre continuum emission, and a lower gas surface density within the dead zone. Previous studies showed that the Rossby wave instability can also develop at the edge of such dead zones, forming vortices and also creating asymmetries. read more

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Earth and Planetary Astrophysics Solar and Stellar Astrophysics