Streaming instabilities in protoplanetary disks

Andrew N. Youdin, Jeremy Goodman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

801 Scopus citations


Interpenetrating streams of solids and gas in a Keplerian disk produce a local, linear instability. The two components mutually interact via aerodynamic drag, which generates radial drift and triggers unstable modes. The secular instability does not require self-gravity, yet it generates growing particle-density perturbations that could seed planetesimal formation. Growth rates are slower than dynamical but faster than radial drift timescales. Growth rates, like streaming velocities, are maximized for marginal coupling (stopping times comparable to dynamical times). Fastest growth occurs when the solid-to-gas density ratio is order unity and feedback is strongest. Curiously, growth is strongly suppressed when the densities are too nearly equal. The relation between background drift and wave properties is explained by analogy with Howard's semicircle theorem. The three-dimensional, two-fluid equations describe a sixth-order (in the complex frequency) dispersion relation. A terminal velocity approximation allows simplification to an approximate cubic dispersion relation. To describe the simplest manifestation of this instability, we ignore complicating (but possibly relevant) factors such as vertical stratification, dispersion of particle sizes, turbulence, and self-gravity. We consider applications to planetesimal formation and compare our work to other studies of particle-gas dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-469
Number of pages11
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Feb 10 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Hydrodynamics
  • Instabilities
  • Planetary systems: formation
  • Planetary systems: protoplanetary disks


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