Secular Evolution Driven by Massive Eccentric Disks/Rings: An Apsidally Aligned Case

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Davydenkova, I 

Massive eccentric disks (gaseous or particulate) orbiting a dominant central mass appear in many astrophysical systems, including planetary rings, protoplanetary and accretion disks in binaries, and nuclear stellar disks around supermassive black holes in galactic centers. We present an analytical framework for treating the nearly Keplerian secular dynamics of test particles driven by the gravity of an eccentric, apsidally aligned, zero-thickness disk with arbitrary surface density and eccentricity profiles. We derive a disturbing function describing the secular evolution of coplanar objects, which is explicitly related (via one-dimensional, convergent integrals) to the disk surface density and eccentricity profiles without using any ad hoc softening of the potential. Our analytical framework is verified via direct orbit integrations, which show it to be accurate in the low-eccentricity limit for a variety of disk models (for disk eccentricity < 0.1-0.2). We find that free precession in the potential of a disk with a smooth surface density distribution can naturally change from prograde to retrograde within the disk. Sharp disk features - edges and gaps - are the locations where this tendency is naturally enhanced, while the precession becomes very fast. Radii where free precession changes sign are the locations where substantial (formally singular) growth of the forced eccentricity of the orbiting objects occurs. Based on our results, we formulate a self-consistent analytical framework for computing an eccentricity profile for an aligned, eccentric disk (with a prescribed surface density profile) capable of precessing as a solid body under its own self-gravity.

accretion, accretion disks, planets and satellites: rings, protoplanetary disks
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Astrophysical Journal
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American Astronomical Society
Science and Technology Facilities Council (ST/P000673/1)
Science and Technology Facilities Council (ST/L000636/1)