Streaming instability of multiple particle species in protoplanetary disks

Noemi Schaffer, Chao Chin Yang, Anders Johansen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The radial drift and diffusion of dust particles in protoplanetary disks affect both the opacity and temperature of such disks, as well as the location and timing of planetesimal formation. In this paper, we present results of numerical simulations of particle-gas dynamics in protoplanetary disks that include dust grains with various size distributions. We have considered three scenarios in terms of particle size ranges, one where the Stokes number τs = 10-1-100, one where τs = 10-4-10-1, and finally one where τs = 10-3-100. Moreover, we considered both discrete and continuous distributions in particle size. In accordance with previous works we find in our multispecies simulations that different particle sizes interact via the gas and as a result their dynamics changes compared to the single-species case. The larger species trigger the streaming instability and create turbulence that drives the diffusion of the solid materials. We measured the radial equilibrium velocity of the system and find that the radial drift velocity of the large particles is reduced in the multispecies simulations and that the small particle species move on average outwards. We also varied the steepness of the size distribution, such that the exponent of the solid number density distribution, dNâda âa-q, is either q = 3 or q = 4. Overall, we find that the steepness of the size distribution and the discrete versus continuous approach have little impact on the results. The level of diffusion and drift rates are mainly dictated by the range of particle sizes. We measured the scale height of the particles and observe that small grains are stirred up well above the sedimented midplane layer where the large particles reside. Our measured diffusion and drift parameters can be used in coagulation models for planet formation as well as to understand relative mixing of the components of primitive meteorites (matrix, chondrules and CAIs) prior to inclusion in their parent bodies.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA75
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


  • Diffusion
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Instabilities
  • Methods: numerical
  • Protoplanetary disks
  • Turbulence


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