Article

Steady state dust distributions in disk vortices: observational predictions and applications to transitional disks

The Atacama Large Millimeter Array has returned images of transitional disks in which large asymmetries are seen in the distribution of millimeter sized dust in the outer disk. The explanation in vogue borrows from the vortex literature and suggests that these asymmetries are the result of dust trapping in giant vortices, excited via Rossby wave instabilities at planetary gap edges. Due to the drag force, dust trapped in vortices will accumulate in the center and diffusion is needed to maintain a steady state over the lifetime of the disk. While previous work derived semi-analytical models of the process, in this paper we provide analytical steady-steady solutions. Exact solutions exist for certain vortex models. The solution is determined by the vortex rotation profile, the gas scale height, the vortex aspect ratio, and the ratio of dust diffusion to gas-dust friction. In principle, all of these quantities can be derived from observations, which would validate the model and also provide constrains on the strength of the turbulence inside the vortex core. Based on our solution, we derive quantities such as the gas-dust contrast, the trapped dust mass, and the dust contrast at the same orbital location. We apply our model to the recently imaged Oph IRS 48 system, finding values within the range of the observational uncertainties.

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