Deep and wide gaps by super Earths in low-viscosity discs

Sivan Ginzburg*, Re'em Sari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Planets can open cavities (gaps) in the protoplanetary gaseous discs in which they are born by exerting gravitational torques. Viscosity counters these torques and limits the depletion of the gaps. We present a simple 1D scheme to calculate the gas density profile inside gaps by balancing the gravitational and viscous torques. By generalizing the results of Goodman & Rafikov (2001), our scheme properly accounts for the propagation of angular momentum by density waves. This method allows us to easily study low-viscosity discs, which are challenging for full hydrodynamical simulations. We complement our numerical integration by analytical equations for the gap's steady-state depth and width as a function of the planet'sto- star's mass ratio μ, the gas disc's aspect ratio h, and its Shakura & Sunyaev viscosity parameter a. Specifically, we focus on low-mass planets (μ < μth = h3) and identify a new low-viscosity regime, α < h(μ/μth)5, in which the classical analytical scaling relations are invalid. Equivalently, this low-viscosity regime applies to every gap that is depleted by more than a factor of (μth/μ)3 relative to the unperturbed density. We show that such gaps are significantly deeper and wider than previously thought, and consequently take a longer time to reach equilibrium.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1986-1996
Number of pages11
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 11 Sep 2018

Bibliographical note

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© 2018 The Author(s).


  • Planet-disc interactions
  • Planets and satellites: formation
  • Protoplanetary discs


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