Dynamics of protoplanetary disks


Abstract Protoplanetary disks are quasi-steady structures whose evolution and dispersal determine the environ-ment for planet formation. I review the theory of protoplanetary disk evolution and its connection to observations. Substantial progress has been made in elucidating the physics of potential angular momentum transport processes – including self-gravity, magnetorotational instability, baroclinic instabilities, and magnetic braking – and in developing testable models for disk dispersal via photoevaporation. The relative importance of these processes depends upon the initial mass, size and magnetization of the disk, and subsequently on its opacity, ionization state, and external irradiation. Disk dynamics is therefore coupled to star formation, pre-main-sequence stellar evolution, and dust co-agulation during the early stages of planet formation, and may vary dramatically from star to star. The importance of validating theoretical models is emphasized, with the key observations being those that probe disk structure on the scales, between 1 AU and 10 AU, where theory is most uncertain

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