Parametric Study of the Rossby Wave Instability in a Two-dimensional Barotropic Disk. II. Nonlinear Calculations

Tomohiro Ono, Takayuki Muto, Kengo Tomida, Zhaohuan Zhu

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15 Citations (Scopus)


Vortices in protoplanetary disks have attracted attention since the discovery of lopsided structures. One of the possible mechanisms for producing vortices is the Rossby wave instability (RWI). In our previous work, we have performed detailed linear stability analyses of the RWI with various initial conditions. In this paper, we perform numerical simulations of the vortex formation by the RWI in two-dimensional barotropic disks using the Athena++ code. As initial conditions, we consider axisymmetric disks with a Gaussian surface density bump of various contrasts and half-widths. Perturbations grow as expected from the linear stability analyses in the linear and weakly nonlinear regimes. After the saturation, multiple vortices are formed in accordance with the most unstable azimuthal mode and coalesce one after another. In the end, only one quasi-stationary vortex (the RWI vortex) remains, which migrates inward. During the RWI evolution, the axisymmetric component approaches the stable configuration. We find that the axisymmetric component reaches the marginally stable state for the most unstable azimuthal mode at the saturation and for the m = 1 mode at the final vortex merger. We investigate the structure and evolution of the RWI vortices. We obtain some empirical relations between the properties of the RWI vortices and the initial conditions. Using tracer particle analyses, we find that the RWI vortex can be considered as a physical entity, like a large fluid particle. Our results provide solid theoretical ground for quantitative interpretation of the observed lopsided structures in protoplanetary disks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number70
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Sept 1


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