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The Astrophysical Journal





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We examine whether various characteristics of planet-driven spiral arms can be used to constrain the masses of unseen planets and their positions within their disks. By carrying out two-dimensional hydrodynamic simulations varying planet mass and disk gas temperature, we find that a larger number of spiral arms form with a smaller planet mass and a lower disk temperature. A planet excites two or more spiral arms interior to its orbit for a range of disk temperatures characterized by the disk aspect ratio $0.04\leqslant {(h/r)}_{p}\leqslant 0.15$, whereas exterior to a planet's orbit multiple spiral arms can form only in cold disks with ${(h/r)}_{p}\lesssim 0.06$. Constraining the planet mass with the pitch angle of spiral arms requires accurate disk temperature measurements that might be challenging even with ALMA. However, the property that the pitch angle of planet-driven spiral arms decreases away from the planet can be a powerful diagnostic to determine whether the planet is located interior or exterior to the observed spirals. The arm-to-arm separations increase as a function of planet mass, consistent with previous studies; however, the exact slope depends on disk temperature as well as the radial location where the arm-to-arm separations are measured. We apply these diagnostics to the spiral arms seen in MWC 758 and Elias 2–27. As shown in Bae et al., planet-driven spiral arms can create concentric rings and gaps, which can produce a more dominant observable signature than spiral arms under certain circumstances. We discuss the observability of planet-driven spiral arms versus rings and gaps.


Hydrodynamics; Planet–disk interaction; Stars: Individual (Elias 2-27, MWC 758); Waves


Astrophysics and Astronomy

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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