Stability of the viscously spreading ring

Roland Speith & Wilhelm Kley

Astronomy & Astrophysics, 399, 395 (2003)


We study analytically and numerically the stability of the pressure-less, viscously spreading accretion ring. We show that the ring is unstable to small non-axisymmetric perturbations. To perform the perturbation analysis of the ring we use a stretching transformation of the time coordinate. We find that to 1st order, one-fold spiral structures, and to 2nd order additionally two-fold spiral features may appear. Furthermore, we identify a dispersion relation determining the instability of the ring. The theoretical results are confirmed in several simulations, using two different numerical methods. These computations prove independently the existence of a secular spiral instability driven by viscosity, which evolves into persisting leading and trailing spiral waves. Our results settle the question whether the spiral structures found in earlier simulations of the spreading ring are numerical artifacts or genuine instabilities.

A&A: March 2003

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