Grand-design Spiral Arms in a Young Forming Circumstellar Disk

Kengo Tomida, Masahiro N. Machida, Takashi Hosokawa, Yuya Sakurai, Chia Hui Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


We study formation and long-term evolution of a circumstellar disk in a collapsing molecular cloud core using a resistive magnetohydrodynamic simulation. While the formed circumstellar disk is initially small, it grows as accretion continues, and its radius becomes as large as 200 au toward the end of the Class-I phase. A pair of grand-design spiral arms form due to gravitational instability in the disk, and they transfer angular momentum in the highly resistive disk. Although the spiral arms disappear in a few rotations as expected in a classical theory, new spiral arms form recurrently as the disk, soon becoming unstable again by gas accretion. Such recurrent spiral arms persist throughout the Class-0 and I phases. We then perform synthetic observations and compare our model with a recent high-resolution observation of a young stellar object Elias 2-27, whose circumstellar disk has grand-design spiral arms. We find good agreement between our theoretical model and the observation. Our model suggests that the grand-design spiral arms around Elias 2-27 are consistent with material arms formed by gravitational instability. If such spiral arms commonly exist in young circumstellar disks, it implies that young circumstellar disks are considerably massive and gravitational instability is the key process of angular momentum transport.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL11
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 20 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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