Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 561A, 16-16 (2014/1-1)
Grain size segregation in debris discs.
THEBAULT P., KRAL Q. and AUGEREAU J.-C.
Abstract (from CDS):
In most debris discs, dust grain dynamics is strongly affected by stellar radiation pressure. Because this mechanism is size-dependent, we expect dust grains to be spatially segregated according to their sizes. However, because of the complex interplay between radiation pressure, grain processing by collisions, and dynamical perturbations, this spatial segregation of the particle size distribution (PSD) has proven difficult to investigate and quantify with numerical models. We propose to thoroughly investigate this problem by using a new-generation code that can handle some of the complex coupling between dynamical and collisional effects. We intend to explore how PSDs behave in both unperturbed discs at rest and in discs pertubed by planetary objects. We used the DyCoSS code to investigate the coupled effect of collisions, radiation pressure, and dynamical perturbations in systems that have reached a steady-state. We considered two setups: a narrow ring perturbed by an exterior planet, and an extended disc into which a planet is embedded. For both setups we considered an additional unperturbed case without a planet. We also investigated the effect of possible spatial size segregation on disc images at different wavelengths. We find that PSDs are always spatially segregated. The only case for which the PSD follows a standard dn ∝s–3.5ds law is for an unperturbed narrow ring, but only within the parent-body ring itself. For all other configurations, the size distributions can strongly depart from such power laws and have steep spatial gradients. As an example, the geometrical cross-section of the disc is very rarely dominated by the smallest grains on bound orbits, as it is expected to be in standard PSDs in sq with q≤-3. Although the exact profiles and spatial variations of PSDs are a complex function of the set-up that is considered, we are still able to derive some reliable results that will be useful for image or SED-fitting models of observed discs.