Efficiency of thermal relaxation by radiative processes in protoplanetary discs: constraints on hydrodynamic turbulence
1 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
2 Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, Institut für Theoretische Astrophysik, Albert-Ueberle-Straße 2, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
Received: 19 October 2016
Accepted: 6 April 2017
Context. Hydrodynamic, non-magnetic instabilities can provide turbulent stress in the regions of protoplanetary discs, where the magneto-rotational instability can not develop. The induced motions influence the grain growth, from which formation of planetesimals begins. Thermal relaxation of the gas constrains origins of the identified hydrodynamic sources of turbulence in discs.
Aims. We aim to estimate the radiative relaxation timescale of temperature perturbations in protoplanetary discs. We study the dependence of the thermal relaxation on the perturbation wavelength, the location within the disc, the disc mass, and the dust-to-gas mass ratio. We then apply thermal relaxation criteria to localise modes of the convective overstability, the vertical shear instability, and the zombie vortex instability.
Methods. For a given temperature perturbation, we estimated two timescales: the radiative diffusion timescale tthick and the optically thin emission timescale tthin. The longest of these timescales governs the relaxation: trelax = max (tthick, tthin). We additionally accounted for the collisional coupling to the emitting species. Our calculations employed the latest tabulated dust and gas mean opacities.
Results. The relaxation criterion defines the bulk of a typical T Tauri disc as unstable to the development of linear hydrodynamic instabilities. The midplane is unstable to the convective overstability from at most 2au and up to 40au, as well as beyond 140au. The vertical shear instability can develop between 15au and 180au. The successive generation of (zombie) vortices from a seeded noise can work within the inner 0.8au.
Conclusions. A map of relaxation timescale constrains the origins of the identified hydrodynamic turbulence-driving mechanisms in protoplanetary discs. Dynamic disc modelling with the evolution of dust and gas opacities is required to clearly localise the hydrodynamic turbulence, and especially its non-linear phase.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / hydrodynamics / instabilities / radiation mechanisms: thermal / methods: analytical / protoplanetary disks
© ESO, 2017