Long Term Evolution of Planet-Induced Vortices in Protoplanetary Disks

Recent observations of large-scale asymmetric features in protoplanetary disks suggest that large-scale vortices exist in such disks. Massive planets are known to be able to produce deep gaps in protoplanetary disks. The gap edges could become hydrodynamically unstable to the Rossby wave/vortex instability and form large-scale vortices. In this study we examine the long term evolution of these vortices by carrying out high-resolution two dimensional hydrodynamic simulations that last more than $10^4$ orbits (measured at the planet's orbit). We find that the disk viscosity has a strong influence on both the emergence and lifetime of vortices. In the outer disk region where asymmetric features are observed, our simulation results suggest that the disk viscous $\alpha$ needs to be low $\sim 10^{-5 }$ - $10^{-4}$ to sustain vortices to thousands and up to $10^{4}$ orbits in certain cases. The chance of finding a vortex feature in a disk then decreases with smaller planet orbital radius. For $\alpha \sim 10^{-3}$ or larger, even planets with masses of 5 Jupiter-masses will have difficulty either producing or sustaining vortices. We have also studied the effects of different disk temperatures and planet masses. We discuss the implications of our findings on current and future protoplanetary disk observations.

Comments: 5 pages, 5 figures; accepted for publication in ApJ Letter

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