Affordable Access

MRI-active inner regions of protoplanetary discs. I. A detailed model of disc structure

  • Jankovic, MR
  • Owen, JE
  • Mohanty, S
  • Tan, JC
Publication Date
Apr 26, 2021
Spiral - Imperial College Digital Repository


<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title> <jats:p>Short-period super-Earth-sized planets are common. Explaining how they form near their present orbits requires understanding the structure of the inner regions of protoplanetary discs. Previous studies have argued that the hot inner protoplanetary disc is unstable to the magneto-rotational instability (MRI) due to thermal ionization of potassium, and that a local gas pressure maximum forms at the outer edge of this MRI-active zone. Here we present a steady-state model for inner discs accreting viscously, primarily due to the MRI. The structure and MRI-viscosity of the inner disc are fully coupled in our model; moreover, we account for many processes omitted in previous such models, including disc heating by both accretion and stellar irradiation, vertical energy transport, realistic dust opacities, dust effects on disc ionization and non-thermal sources of ionization. For a disc around a solar-mass star with a standard gas accretion rate ($\dot{M}$∼10−8 M⊙ yr−1) and small dust grains, we find that the inner disc is optically thick, and the accretion heat is primarily released near the midplane. As a result, both the disc midplane temperature and the location of the pressure maximum are only marginally affected by stellar irradiation, and the inner disc is also convectively unstable. As previously suggested, the inner disc is primarily ionized through thermionic and potassium ion emission from dust grains, which, at high temperatures, counteract adsorption of free charges onto grains. Our results show that the location of the pressure maximum is determined by the threshold temperature above which thermionic and ion emission become efficient.</jats:p>

Report this publication


Seen <100 times