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2016ApJ...827...93N - Astrophys. J., 827, 93-93 (2016/August-3)

Dynamics of circumstellar disks. III. The case of GG Tau A.


Abstract (from CDS):

We present two-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations using the Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamic code, VINE, to model a self-gravitating binary system. We model configurations in which a circumbinary torus+disk surrounds a pair of stars in orbit around each other and a circumstellar disk surrounds each star, similar to that observed for the GG Tau A system. We assume that the disks cool as blackbodies, using rates determined independently at each location in the disk by the time dependent temperature of the photosphere there. We assume heating due to hydrodynamical processes and to radiation from the two stars, using rates approximated from a measure of the radiation intercepted by the disk at its photosphere. We simulate a suite of systems configured with semimajor axes of either a=62 AU ("wide") or a=32 AU ("close"), and with assumed orbital eccentricity of either e=0 or e=0.3. Each simulation follows the evolution for ∼6500-7500 yr, corresponding to about three orbits of the torus around the center of mass. Our simulations show that strong, sharply defined spiral structures are generated from the stirring action of the binary and that, in some cases, these structures fragment into 1-2 massive clumps. The torus quickly fragments into several dozen such fragments in configurations in which either the binary is replaced by a single star of equal mass, or radiative heating is neglected. The spiral structures extend inwards to the circumstellar environment as large scale material streams for which most material is found on trajectories that return it to the torus on a timescale of 1-200 yr, with only a small fraction accreting into the circumstellar environment. The spiral structures also propagate outwards through the torus, generating net outwards mass flow, and eventually losing coherence at large distances from the stars. The torus becomes significantly eccentric in shape over most of its evolution. In all configurations, accretion onto the stars occurs at a steady rate of a few x10^-8 M_☉ yr^-1, with the net result that, without replenishment, the disk lifetimes would be shorter than ∼10^4 yr. Our simulations show that only wide orbit configurations are able to retain circumstellar disks, by virtue of accretion driven from the robust material streams generated in wide configurations, which are very weak in close configurations. In wide, eccentric orbit configurations, accretion is episodic and occurs preferentially onto the secondary, with rates strongly peaked near the binary periapse. Based on our results, we conclude that the GG Tau A torus is strongly self gravitating and that a major contribution to its thermal energy input is the shock dissipation associated with spiral structures generated both by self gravitating disturbances and by the stirring action of the binary. We interpret the sharply defined features observed in the torus as manifestations of such spiral structures. We interpret the low density disk surrounding it as an excretion disk created by the outward mass flux generated by the spiral arms as they propagate outwards. Typical eccentricities calculated for the shape of the tori modeled in our simulations are large enough to account for the supposed ∼20deg mutual inclination between the stellar orbit plane of GG Tau A and its surrounding torus through a degeneracy between the interpretation of inclination of the torus and its eccentricity. We therefore interpret the observations in favor of a coplanar system with an eccentric torus. Because accretion onto the disks occurs at rates sufficient to sustain them only in wide orbit configurations, we conclude that the gas currently resident in the circumstellar disks of the GG Tau A system has been accreted from the torus within the past few thousand years. Although circumstellar disks will persist over time spans long enough to permit planet formation, the overall environment remains unfavorable due to high temperatures and other conditions. Given the presence of circumstellar disks, robust accretion streams, and our interpretation of the GG Tau A stellar orbit plane as coplanar with the torus surrounding it, we conclude that the GG Tau A system is in an eccentric, a ∼ 62 AU orbit, resolving questions in the literature regarding its orbit parameters.

Abstract Copyright: © 2016. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.

Journal keyword(s): accretion, accretion disks - binaries: general - protoplanetary disks - stars: formation - stars: variables: T Tauri, Herbig Ae/Be - stars: variables: T Tauri, Herbig Ae/Be

Simbad objects: 14

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