Survival and structure of dusty vortices in protoplanetary discs

Ivo Crnkovic-Rubsamen, Zhaohuan Zhu, James McLellan Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


We have studied the impact of dust feedback on the survival and structure of vortices in protoplanetary discs using 2D shearing box simulations with Lagrangian dust particles. We consider dust with a variety of sizes (stopping time ts =10-2Ω-1-102Ω-1), from fully coupled with the gas to the decoupling limit. We find that a vortex is destroyed by dust feedback when the total dust-to-gas mass ratio within the vortex is larger than 30-50 per cent, independent of the dust size. The dust distribution can still be asymmetric in some cases after the vortex has been destroyed. With smaller amounts of dust, a vortex can survive for at least 100 orbits, and the maximum dust surface density within the vortex can be more than 100 times larger than the gas surface density, potentially facilitating planetesimal formation. On the other hand, in these stable vortices, small (ts-1) and large (ts ≳ Ω-1) dust grains concentrate differently and affect the gas dynamics in different ways. The distribution of large dust is more elongated than that of small dust. Large dust (ts ≳ Ω-1) concentrates in the centre of the vortex and feedback leads to turn-over in vorticity towards the centre, forming a quiescent region within an anticyclonic vortex. Such a turn-over is absent if the vortex is loaded with small grains. We demonstrate that, in protoplanetary discs where both large and small dust grains are present and under the right condition, the concentration of large dust towards the vortex centre can lead to a quiescent centre, repelling the small dust and forming a small dust ring around the vortex centre. Such anticorrelations between small and large dust within vortices may explain the discrepancy between Atacama Large Millimeter Array and near-IR scattered light observations in the asymmetric region of transitional discs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4285-4291
Number of pages7
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 24 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Infrared
  • Stars


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