Volume 551, March 2013
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||25 February 2013|
On vertical variations of gas flow in protoplanetary disks and their impact on the transport of solids
Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto, 60 St. Georges Street, Toronto, ON M5S 3H8, Canada
Received: 28 November 2012
Accepted: 18 January 2013
A major uncertainty in accretion disk theory is the nature and properties of gas turbulence, which drives transport in protoplanetary disks. The commonly used viscous prescription for the Maxwell-Reynolds stress tensor gives rise to a meridional circulation where flow is outward near the midplane and inward away from it. This meridional circulation has been proposed as an explanation for the presence of high-temperature minerals (believed to be of inner solar system provenance) in comets. However, it has not been observed in simulations of magnetohydrodynamical (MHD) turbulence so far. In this study, we evaluate the extent to which the net transport of solids can be diagnostic of the existence of meridional circulation. To that end, we propose and motivate a prescription for MHD turbulence which has the same free parameters as the viscous one. We compare the effects of both prescriptions on the radial transport of small solid particles and find that their net, vertically integrated radial flux is actually quite insensitive to the flow structure for a given vertical average of the turbulence parameter α, which we explain. Given current uncertainties on disk turbulence, one-dimensional models are thus most appropriate to investigate radial transport of solids. A corollary is that the presence of high-temperature material in comets cannot be considered an unequivocal diagnostic of meridional circulation. In fact, we argue that outward transport in viscous disk models with inward net accretion is more properly attributed to turbulent diffusion rather than to the mean flows of the gas.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / instabilities / magnetohydrodynamics (MHD) / turbulence / comets: general / meteorites, meteors, meteoroids
© ESO, 2013
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