ASIAA Summer Students Program
ASIAA Summer Student Program 2022
July 1 - August 31

2022 Project Description

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Why are there so few vortices in protoplanetary discs?
This project can be carried out remotely.

hydrodynamic simulations
numerical simulations
Protoplanetary Discs


Michael Hammer, Min-Kai Lin
Find out more about supervisors on ASIAA website

Task Description and Goals

In the 2010s, the activation of the ALMA telescope array in Chile has finally made it possible to take high-quality images of the dust in protoplanetary discs. These images have revealed that protoplanetary discs have various features that are likely shaped by the unseen planets in these discs. Besides the more common features like rings and spirals, a few discs also have crescent-shaped features --- likely a sign of vortices in these discs. Naively, we might expect vortices to be more common because (i) recently-formed planets can trigger vortices even if they are less massive than Saturn, (ii) vortices can survive for a very long time if the protoplanetary disc is not very turbulent, and (iii) protoplanetary discs are not thought to be very turbulent. Contrary to that expectation, crescents that could be vortices only appear a few discs.

In this project, the student will use numerical simulations (with the FARGO3D hydrodynamic code) to help explore why there might be fewer vortices than we expect in real protoplanetary discs. They will have the opportunity to run simulations to study this problem and then analyze the output of their own simulations. They should have an opportunity to publish a paper if they continue this work after the summer.

Required Background

Basic knowledge of Python (or intermediate knowledge of another programming language). Somewhat fluent in English. Must like planets.

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