Kinematics of solid particles in a turbulent protoplanetary disc

Augusto Carballido, James M. Stone, Neal J. Turner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


We perform numerical simulations of solid particle motion in a shearing box model of a protoplanetary disc. The accretion flow is turbulent due to the action of the magnetorotational instability. Aerodynamic drag on the particles is modelled using the Epstein law with the gas velocity interpolated to the particle position. The effect of the magnetohydrodynamic turbulence on particle velocity dispersions is quantified for solids of different stopping times t s, or equivalently, different sizes. The anisotropy of the turbulence is reflected upon the dispersions of the particle velocity components, with the radial component larger than both the azimuthal and vertical components for particles larger than ∼10 cm (assuming minimum-mass solar nebula conditions at 5 au). The dispersion of the particle velocity magnitude, as well as that of the radial and azimuthal components, as functions of stopping time, agrees with previous analytical results for isotropic turbulence. The relative speed between pairs of particles with the same value of ts decays faster with decreasing separation than in the case of solids with different stopping time. Correlations in the particle number density introduce a non-uniform spatial distribution of solids in the 10 to 100 cm size range. Any clump of particles is disrupted by the turbulence in less than one tenth of an orbital period, and the maximally concentrated clumps are stable against self-gravitational collapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-154
Number of pages10
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Accretion, accretion discs
  • MHD
  • Planetary systems: protoplanetary discs
  • Solar system: formation
  • Turbulence


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