Cottrell Fellowship: Distorted Accretion Disks: The Restless Environments of Planet-Forming Systems

Project: Research project

Project Details


Most of the computational efforts in accretion disk simulations have focused on local effects or in “adding more physics” to the equations of motion. Nevertheless, we still have a limited understanding of disk evolution under global effects such as large-scale warping and eccentricity. Disk distortions are difficult to simulate directly because (i) even state-of-the- art simulation codes often struggle with significant departures from the ideal axisymmetric disk morphology; and (ii) because these distortions evolve on timescales that, while shorter than the lifetime of disks, are much longer that the duration of most simulations, which makes them a very difficult computational problem. I will address (i) by using cutting-edge, coordinate-independent hydrodynamical simulations (Mun˜oz et al. 2013; Mun˜oz et al. 2014) using my expanded version of the Lagrangian-Eulerian scheme AREPO (Springel 2010). I will bridge the timescale gap (ii) by informing my simulations with perturbation theory, which allows us to study the evolution of warps and eccentricities analytically (Mun˜oz & Lithwick 2020).
In the following, I lay out my plan to quantify the effects of distortion on the evolution of accre- tion disks, with a focus on planet formation, but with broad implications to disks in general. Using a novel multi-pronged approach, I will study warped and eccentric disks via theoretical calculations and hydrodynamical simulations. In addition, I will process the results of my models with radiative transfer calculations, to produce astronomical images directly comparable to observations.
Effective start/end date9/1/208/31/21


  • Research Corporation (Award #27470//CHE-2039044)
  • National Science Foundation (Award #27470//CHE-2039044)


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