Is the spiral morphology of the Elias 2-27 circumstellar disc due to gravitational instability?
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Oxford University Press (OUP)
© 2018 The Author(s) Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.
A recent ALMA observation of the Elias 2-27 system revealed a two-armed structure extend- ing out to ∼300 au in radius. The protostellar disc surrounding the central star is unusually massive, raising the possibility that the system is gravitationally unstable. Recent work has shown that the observed morphology of the system can be explained by disc self-gravity, so we examine the physical properties of the disc necessary to detect self-gravitating spiral waves. Using three-dimensional Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics, coupled with radiative transfer and synthetic ALMA imaging, we find that observable spiral structure can only be explained by self-gravity if the disc has a low opacity (and therefore efficient cooling), and is minimally supported by external irradiation. This corresponds to a very narrow region of parameter space, suggesting that, although it is possible for the spiral structure to be due to disc self-gravity, other explanations, such as an external perturbation, may be preferred.
We thank the anonymous referee for their thoughtful review, which greatly improved the clarity of this work. We would like to thank Daniel Price for his publicly available SPH plotting code SPLASH (Price 2007), which we have made use of in this paper. CH warmly thanks Farzana Meru for elucidating discussions during the process of this work. KR gratefully acknowledges support from STFC grant ST/M001229/1. DF gratefully acknowledges support from the ECOGAL project, grant agreement 291227, funded by the European Research Council under ERC-2011-ADG. The research leading to these results also received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement number 313014 (ETAEARTH). This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No 681601). This research used the ALICE2 High Performance Computing Facility at the University of Leicester. TJH acknowledges funding from Exeter’s STFC Consolidated Grant (ST/M00127X/1)
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from Oxford University Press via the DOI in this record.