Are Elias 2-27's spiral arms driven by self-gravity, or by a companion? A comparative spiral morphology study

Duncan H. Forgan, John D. Ilee, Farzana Meru

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30 Citations (Scopus)
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Abstract

The spiral waves detected in the protostellar disk surrounding Elias 2-27 have been suggested as evidence of the disk being gravitationally unstable. However, previous work has shown that a massive, stable disk undergoing an encounter with a massive companion are also consistent with the observations. We compare the spiral morphology of smoothed particle hydrodynamic simulations modeling both cases. The gravitationally unstable disk produces symmetric, tightly wound spiral arms with constant pitch angle, as predicted by the literature. The companion disk's arms are asymmetric, with pitch angles that increase with radius. However, these arms are not well-fitted by standard analytic expressions, due to the high disk mass and relatively low companion mass. We note that differences (or indeed similarities) in morphology between pairs of spirals is a crucial discriminant between scenarios for Elias 2-27, and hence future studies must fit spiral arms individually. If Elias 2-27 continues to show symmetric tightly wound spiral arms in future observations, then we posit that it is the first observed example of a gravitationally unstable protostellar disk.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL5
Number of pages7
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume860
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2018

Keywords

  • Hydrodynamics
  • Planetdisk interactions
  • Protoplanetary disks
  • Stars: individual (Elias 227)
  • Stars: pre-main sequence

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