Transitional Disks are disk with gaps and holes. They were first discovered by SED fitting and later confirmed by sub-millemeter interferometry. These large cavities and gaps are candidates for gap opening by giant planets.

In Zhu et al. 2010 c, we use 2D hydrodynamic simulations of viscous disks to examine whether dynamically-interacting multiple giant planets can explain the large gaps (spanning over one order of magnitude in radius) inferred for the transitional and pre-transitional disks around T Tauri stars. In the absence of inner disk dust depletion, we find that it requires three to four giant planets to open up large enough gaps to be consistent with inferences from spectral energy distributions, because the gap width is limited by the tendency of the planets to be driven together into 2:1 resonances. With very strong tidal torques and/or rapid planetary accretion, fewer planets can also generate a large cavity interior to the locally formed gap(s) by preventing outer disk material from moving in. In these cases, however, the reduction of surface density produces a corresponding reduction in the inner disk accretion rate onto the star; this makes it difficult to explain the observed accretion rates of the pre/transitional disks. We find that even with four planets in disks, additional substantial dust depletion is required to explain observed disk gaps/holes. Substantial dust settling and growth, with consequent significant reductions in optical depths, is inferred for typical T Tauri disks in any case, and an earlier history of dust growth is consistent with the hypothesis that pre/transitional disks are explained by the presence of giant planets. We conclude that the depths and widths of gaps, and disk accretion rates in pre/transitional disks cannot be reproduced by a planet-induced gap opening scenario alone. Significant dust depletion is also required within the gaps/holes. Order of magnitude estimates suggest the mass of small dust particles (<1 micron) relative to the gas must be depleted to 1e-5 -- 1e-2 of the interstellar medium value, implying a very efficient mechanism of small dust removal or dust growth.


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