Nonlinear Outcome of Gravitational Instability in Disks with Realistic Cooling
We consider the nonlinear outcome of gravitational instability in optically thick disks with a realistic cooling function. We use a numerical model that is local, razor-thin, and unmagnetized. External illumination is ignored. Cooling is calculated from a one-zone model using analytic fits to low temperature Rosseland mean opacities. The model has two parameters: the initial surface density Sigma_0 and the rotation frequency Omega. We survey the parameter space and find: (1) The disk fragments
... hen t_c,eff Omega = 1, where t_c,eff is an effective cooling time defined as the average internal energy of the model divided by the average cooling rate. This is consistent with earlier results that used a simplified cooling function. (2) The initial cooling time t_c0 or a uniform disk with Q = 1 can differ by orders of magnitude from t_c,eff in the nonlinear outcome. The difference is caused by sharp variations in the opacity with temperature. The condition t_c0 Omega = 1 therefore does not necessarily indicate where fragmentation will occur. (3) The largest difference between t_c,eff and t_c0 is near the opacity gap, where dust is absent and hydrogen is largely molecular. (4) In the limit of strong illumination the disk is isothermal; we find that an isothermal version of our model fragments for Q < 1.4. Finally, we discuss some physical processes not included in our model, and find that most are likely to make disks more susceptible to fragmentation. We conclude that disks with t_c,eff Omega < 1 do not exist.