Is the spiral morphology of the Elias 2-27 circumstellar disc due to gravitational instability?

Cassandra Hall*, Ken Rice, Giovanni Dipierro, Duncan Forgan, Tim Harries, Richard Alexander

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
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A recent Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) observation of the Elias 2-27 system revealed a two-armed structure extending out to ~300 au in radius. The protostellar disc surrounding the central star is unusually massive, raising the possibility that the system is gravitationally unstable. Recent work has shown that the observed morphology of the system can be explained by disc self-gravity, so we examine the physical properties of the disc necessary to detect self-gravitating spiral waves. Using three-dimensional smoothed particle hydrodynamics, coupled with radiative transfer and synthetic ALMA imaging, we find that observable spiral structure can only be explained by self-gravity if the disc has a low opacity (and therefore efficient cooling), and is minimally supported by external irradiation. This corresponds to a very narrow region of parameter space, suggesting that, although it is possible for the spiral structure to be due to disc self-gravity, other explanations, such as an external perturbation, may be preferred.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1004-1014
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Early online date28 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jun 2018


  • Brown dwarfs
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Planet-disc interactions
  • Planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability
  • Protoplanetary discs
  • Stars: Formation


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