Protoplanetary disk turbulence driven by the streaming instability: Nonlinear saturation and particle concentration

A. Johansen, A. Youdin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

304 Scopus citations


We present simulations of the nonlinear evolution of streaming instabilities in protoplanetary disks. The two components of the disk, gas treated with grid hydrodynamics and solids treated as superparticles, are mutually coupled by drag forces. We find that the initially laminar equilibrium flow spontaneously develops into turbulence in our unstratified local model. Marginally coupled solids (that couple to the gas on a Keplerian timescale) trigger an upward cascade to large particle clumps with peak overdensities above 100. The clumps evolve dynamically by losing material downstream to the radial drift flow while receiving recycled material from upstream. Smaller, more tightly coupled solids produce weaker turbulence with more transient overdensities on smaller length scales. The net inward radial drift is decreased for marginally coupled particles, whereas the tightly coupled particles migrate faster in the saturated turbulent state. The turbulent diffusion of solid particles, measured by their random walk, depends strongly on their stopping time and on the solids-to-gas ratio of the background state, but diffusion is generally modest, particularly for tightly coupled solids. Angular momentum transport is too weak and of the wrong sign to influence stellar accretion. Self-gravity and collisions will be needed to determine the relevance of particle overdensities for planetesimal formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-641
Number of pages15
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jun 10 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Diffusion
  • Hydrodynamics
  • Instabilities
  • Planetary systems: protoplanetary disks
  • Solar system: formation
  • Turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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