Diversity in the outcome of dust radial drift in protoplanetary discs

C. Pinte, G. Laibe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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The growth of dust particles into planet embryos needs to circumvent the "radial-drift barrier", i.e. the accretion of dust particles onto the central star by radial migration. The outcome of the dust radial migration is governed by simple criteria between the dust-to-gas ratio and the exponents p and q of the surface density and temperature power laws. The transfer of radiation provides an additional constraint between these quantities because the disc thermal structure is fixed by the dust spatial distribution. To assess which discs are primarily affected by the radial-drift barrier, we used the radiative transfer code MCFOST to compute the temperature structure of a wide range of disc models, stressing the particular effects of grain size distributions and vertical settling. We find that the outcome of the dust migration process is very sensitive to the physical conditions within the disc. For high dust-to-gas ratios (≳ 0.01) and/or flattened disc structures (H/R ≲ 0.05), growing dust grains can efficiently decouple from the gas, leading to a high concentration of grains at a critical radius of a few AU. Decoupling of grains from gas can occur at a large fraction (>0.1) of the initial radius of the particle, for a dust-to-gas ratio greater than ≈0.05. Dust grains that experience migration without significant growth (millimetre and centimetre-sized) are efficiently accreted for discs with flat surface density profiles (p <0.7) while they always remain in the disc if the surface density is steep enough (p > 1.2). Between (0.7 <p <1.2), both behaviours may occur depending on the exact density and temperature structures of the disc. Both the presence of large grains and vertical settling tend to favour the accretion of non-growing dust grains onto the central object, but it slows down the migration of growing dust grains. If the disc has evolved into a self-shadowed structure, the required dust-to-gas ratio for dust grains to stop their migration at large radius become much smaller, of the order of 0.01. All the disc configurations are found to have favourable temperature profiles over most of the disc to retain their planetesimals.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberA129
Number of pages9
JournalAstronomy & Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2014


  • Circumstellar matter
  • Protoplanetary disks
  • Stars: formation
  • Radiative transfer
  • Methods: analytical
  • Methods: numerical


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