Protoplanetary disc response to distant tidal encounters in stellar clusters

22 Jan 2018

The majority of stars form in a clustered environment. This has an impact on the evolution of surrounding protoplanetary discs (PPDs) due to either photoevaporation or tidal truncation. Consequently, the development of planets depends on formation environment. Here we present the first thorough investigation of tidally induced angular momentum loss in PPDs in the distant regime, partly motivated by claims in the literature for the importance of distant encounters in disc evolution. We employ both theoretical predictions and dynamical/hydrodynamical simulations in 2D and 3D. Our theoretical analysis is based on that of Ostriker (1994) and leads us to conclude that in the limit that the closest approach distance $x_{min} \gg r$, the radius of a particle ring, the fractional change in angular momentum scales as $(x_{min}/r)^{-5}$. This asymptotic limit ensures that the cumulative effect of distant encounters is minor in terms of its influence on disc evolution. The angular momentum transfer is dominated by the $m=2$ Lindblad resonance for closer encounters and by the $m=1$, $\omega = 0$ Lindblad resonance at large $x_{min}/r$. We contextualise these results by comparing expected angular momentum loss for the outer edge of a PPD due to distant and close encounters. Contrary to the suggestions of previous works we do not find that distant encounters contribute significantly to angular momentum loss in PPDs. We define an upper limit for closest approach distance where interactions are significant as a function of arbitrary host to perturber mass ratio $M_2/M_1$.