Rayleigh adjustment of narrow barriers in protoplanetary discs

Chao-Chin Yang, Kristen Menou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (SciVal)


Sharp density features in protoplanetary discs, for instance at the edge of a magnetically dead zone, have recently been proposed as effective barriers to slow down or even stop the problematically fast migration of planetary cores into their central star. Density features on a radial scale approaching the disc vertical scaleheight might not exist, however, since they could be Rayleigh (or more generally Solberg-Høiland) unstable. Stability must be checked explicitly in one-dimensional viscous accretion disc models because these instabilities are artificially eliminated in the process of reducing the full set of axisymmetric equations. The disc thermodynamics, via the entropy stratification, and its vertical structure also influence stability when sharp density features are present. We propose the concept of Rayleigh adjustment for viscous disc models: any density feature that violates Rayleigh stability (or its generalization) should be diffused radially by hydrodynamical turbulence on a dynamical time-scale, approaching marginal stability in a quasi-continuous manner.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2436-2440
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


  • accretion accretion discs hydrodynamics instabilities planetary systems: formation planetary systems: protoplanetary discs


Dive into the research topics of 'Rayleigh adjustment of narrow barriers in protoplanetary discs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this