Numerical experiments on the stability of preplanetary disks

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Abstract

Gravitational stability of gaseous protostellar disks is relevant to theories of planetary formation. Stable gas disks favor formation of planetesimals by the accumulation of solid material; unstable disks allow the possibility of direct condensation of gaseous protoplanets. We present the results of numerical experiments designed to test the stability of thin disks against large-scale, self-gravitational disruption. The disks are represented by a distribution of about 6 × 104 point masses on a two-dimensional (r, φ) grid. The motions of the particles in the self-consistent gravity field are calculated, and the evolving density distributions are examined for instabilities. Two parameters that have major influences on stability are varied: the initial temperature of the disk (represented by an imposed velocity dispersion), and the mass of the protostar relative to that of the disk. It is found that a disk as massive as 1M⊙, surrounding a 1M⊙ protostar, can be stable against long-wavelength gravitational disruption if its temperature is about 300°K or greater. Stability of a cooler disk requires that it be less massive, but even at 100°K a stable disk can have an appreciable fraction (∼ 1 3) of a solar mass. © 1981.

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Cassen, P. M., Smith, B. F., Miller, R. H., & Reynolds, R. T. (1981). Numerical experiments on the stability of preplanetary disks. Icarus, 48(3), 377–392. https://doi.org/10.1016/0019-1035(81)90052-X

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