Distribution of accreting gas and angular momentum onto circumplanetary disks

Takayuki Tanigawa, Keiji Ohtsuki, Masahiro N. MacHida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Citations (Scopus)


We investigate gas accretion flow onto a circumplanetary disk from a protoplanetary disk in detail by using high-resolution three-dimensional nested-grid hydrodynamic simulations, in order to provide a basis of formation processes of satellites around giant planets. Based on detailed analyses of gas accretion flow, we find that most of gas accretion onto circumplanetary disks occurs nearly vertically toward the disk surface from high altitude, which generates a shock surface at several scale heights of the circumplanetary disk. The gas that has passed through the shock surface moves inward because its specific angular momentum is smaller than that of the local Keplerian rotation, while gas near the midplane in the protoplanetary disk cannot accrete to the circumplanetary disk. Gas near the midplane within the planet's Hill sphere spirals outward and escapes from the Hill sphere through the two Lagrangian points L1 and L2. We also analyze fluxes of accreting mass and angular momentum in detail and find that the distributions of the fluxes onto the disk surface are well described by power-law functions and that a large fraction of gas accretion occurs at the outer region of the disk, i.e., at about 0.1 times the Hill radius. The nature of power-law functions indicates that, other than the outer edge, there is no specific radius where gas accretion is concentrated. These source functions of mass and angular momentum in the circumplanetary disk would provide us with useful constraints on the structure and evolution of the circumplanetary disk, which is important for satellite formation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number47
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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