A simple model for the evolution of the dust population in protoplanetary disks
T. Birnstiel1,2, H. Klahr3 and B. Ercolano1,2
1 University Observatory Munich, Scheinerstr. 1, 81679 München, Germany
2 Excellence Cluster Universe, Boltzmannstr. 2, 85748 Garching, Germany
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Received: 22 September 2011
Accepted: 20 January 2012
Context. The global size and spatial distribution of dust is an important ingredient in the structure and evolution of protoplanetary disks and in the formation of larger bodies, such as planetesimals.
Aims. We aim to derive simple equations that explain the global evolution of the dust surface density profile and the upper limit of the grain size distribution and which can readily be used for further modeling or for interpreting of observational data.
Methods. We have developed a simple model that follows the upper end of the dust size distribution and the evolution of the dust surface density profile. This model is calibrated with state-of-the-art simulations of dust evolution, which treat dust growth, fragmentation, and transport in viscously evolving gas disks.
Results. We find very good agreement between the full dust-evolution code and the toy model presented in this paper. We derive analytical profiles that describe the dust-to-gas ratios and the dust surface density profiles well in protoplanetary disks, as well as the radial flux by solid material “rain out”, which is crucial for triggering any gravity assisted formation of planetesimals. We show that fragmentation is the dominating effect in the inner regions of the disk leading to a dust surface density exponent of -1.5, while the outer regions at later times can become drift-dominated, yielding a dust surface density exponent of −0.75. Our results show that radial drift is not efficient in fragmenting dust grains. This supports the theory that small dust grains are resupplied by fragmentation due to the turbulent state of the disk.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / protoplanetary disks / stars: pre-main sequence / circumstellar matter / planets and satellites: formation
© ESO, 2012