Modeling dust growth in protoplanetary disks: The breakthrough case
Heidelberg University, Center for Astronomy, Institute of Theoretical
Received: 25 February 2014
Accepted: 20 May 2014
Context. Dust coagulation in protoplanetary disks is one of the initial steps toward planet formation. Simple toy models are often not sufficient to cover the complexity of the coagulation process, and a number of numerical approaches are therefore used, among which integration of the Smoluchowski equation and various versions of the Monte Carlo algorithm are the most popular.
Aims. Recent progress in understanding the processes involved in dust coagulation have caused a need for benchmarking and comparison of various physical aspects of the coagulation process. In this paper, we directly compare the Smoluchowski and Monte Carlo approaches to show their advantages and disadvantages.
Methods. We focus on the mechanism of planetesimal formation via sweep-up growth, which is a new and important aspect of the current planet formation theory. We use realistic test cases that implement a distribution in dust collision velocities. This allows a single collision between two grains to have a wide range of possible outcomes but also requires a very high numerical accuracy.
Results. For most coagulation problems, we find a general agreement between the two approaches. However, for the sweep-up growth driven by the “lucky” breakthrough mechanism, the methods exhibit very different resolution dependencies. With too few mass bins, the Smoluchowski algorithm tends to overestimate the growth rate and the probability of breakthrough. The Monte Carlo method is less dependent on the number of particles in the growth timescale aspect but tends to underestimate the breakthrough chance due to its limited dynamic mass range.
Conclusions. We find that the Smoluchowski approach, which is generally better for the breakthrough studies, is sensitive to low mass resolutions in the high-mass, low-number tail that is important in this scenario. To study the low number density features, a new modulation function has to be introduced to the interaction probabilities. As the minimum resolution needed for breakthrough studies depends strongly on setup, verification has to be performed on a case by case basis.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / circumstellar matter / protoplanetary disks / planets and satellites: formation / methods: numerical
© ESO, 2014