Mass Flow and Accretion through Gaps in Accretion Discs

W. Kley
MN, 303, 696-710 (1999)


We study the structure and dynamics of the gap created by a protoplanet in an accretion disc. The hydrodynamic equations for a flat, two-dimensional, non selfgravitating protostellar accretion disc with an embedded, Jupiter sized protoplanet are solved. To simulate possible accretion of mass onto the protoplanet we continually remove mass from the interior of the planet's Roche lobe which is monitored. We find that, even after the formation of a gap in the disc, the planet is still able to accrete more mass from the disc. This accretion occurs from regions exterior and interior of the planet, and the rate depends linearly on the magnitude of the viscosity and vertical thickness of the disc. For typical disc viscosities we estimate the timescale for the accumulation of one Jupiter mass to be of order hundred thousand years. This process thus offers the possibility for the formation of giant planets by continued mass accretion from the surrounding disc, and may be a natural formation scenario for the recently discovered massive extrasolar planets.

The complete gzipped paper incl. figures Paper

The individual Figures (eps-files):
Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Fig. 3, Fig. 4, Fig. 5, Fig. 6, Fig. 7, Fig. 8, Fig. 9, Fig. 10
Fig. 11, Fig. 12, Fig. 13, Fig. 14, Fig. 15, Fig. 16, Fig. 17, Fig. 18

A related Mpeg movie showing the gap clearing process: Movie

Other resources related to accretion onto planets through gaps:
1. By Pawel Artymowicz

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