On the Origin of the Spiral Morphology in the Elias 2-27 Circumstellar Disk

08 Mar 2018

The young star Elias 2-27 has recently been observed to posses a massive circumstellar disk with two prominent large-scale spiral arms. In this Letter, we perform three-dimensional Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics simulations, radiative transfer modeling, synthetic ALMA imaging, and an unsharped masking technique to explore three possibilities for the origin of the observed structures - an undetected companion either internal or external to the spirals, and a self-gravitating disk. We find that a gravitationally unstable disk and a disk with an external companion can produce morphology that is consistent with the observations. In addition, for the latter, we find that the companion could be a relatively massive planetary-mass companion (≲10-13 M Jup ) and located at large radial distances (between ≈300-700 au). We therefore suggest that Elias 2-27 may be one of the first detections of a disk undergoing gravitational instabilities, or a disk that has recently undergone fragmentation to produce a massive companion.