The migration of gap-opening planets is not locked to viscous disk evolution

Paul C. Duffell, Zoltan Haiman, Andrew I. Macfadyen, Daniel J. D'Orazio, Brian D. Farris

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Most standard descriptions of Type II migration state that massive, gap-opening planets must migrate at the viscous drift rate. This is based on the idea that the disk is separated into an inner and outer region and gas is considered unable to cross the gap. In fact, gas easily crosses the gap on horseshoe orbits, nullifying this necessary premise which would set the migration rate. In this work, it is demonstrated using highly accurate numerical calculations that the actual migration rate is dependent on disk and planet parameters, and can be significantly larger or smaller than the viscous drift rate. In the limiting case of a disk much more massive than the secondary, the migration rate saturates to a constant that is sensitive to disk parameters and is not necessarily of the order of the viscous rate. In the opposite limit of a low-mass disk, the migration rate decreases linearly with disk mass. Steady-state solutions in the low disk mass limit show no pile-up outside the secondary's orbit, and no corresponding drainage of the inner disk.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article numberL10
    JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2014


    • accretion, accretion disks
    • black hole physics
    • gravitational waves
    • hydrodynamics
    • planetdisk interactions
    • planets and satellites: formation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science


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