Evolution of dust in protoplanetary disks of eruptive stars

Aims: Luminosity bursts in young FU Orionis-type stars warm up the surrounding disks of gas and dust, thus inflicting changes on their morphological and chemical composition. In this work, we aim at studying the effects that such bursts may have on the spatial distribution of dust grain sizes and the corresponding spectral index in protoplanetary disks.
Methods: We use the numerical hydrodynamics code FEOSAD, which simulates the co-evolution of gas, dust, and volatiles in a protoplanetary disk, taking dust growth and back reaction on gas into account. The dependence of the maximum dust size on the water ice mantles is explicitly considered. The burst is initialized by increasing the luminosity of the central star to 100-300 L for a time period of 100 yr.
Results: The water snowline shifts during the burst to a larger distance, resulting in the drop of the maximum dust size interior to the snowline position because of more efficient fragmentation of bare grains. After the burst, the water snowline shifts quickly back to its preburst location followed by renewed dust growth. The timescale of dust regrowth after the burst depends on the radial distance so that the dust grains at smaller distances reach the preburst values faster than the dust grains at larger distances. As a result, a broad peak in the radial distribution of the spectral index in the millimeter dust emission develops at ≈10 au, which shifts further out as the disk evolves and dust grains regrow to preburst values at progressively larger distances. This feature is most pronounced in evolved axisymmetric disks rather than in young gravitationally unstable counterparts, although young disks may still be good candidates if gravitational instability is suppressed. We confirmed our earlier conclusion that spiral arms do not act as strong dust accumulators because of the Stokes number dropping below 0.01 within the arms, but this trend may change in low-turbulence disks.
Conclusions: We argue that, depending on the burst strength and disk conditions, a broad peak in the radial distribution of the spectral index can last for up to several thousand years after the burst has ended and can be used to infer past bursts in otherwise quiescent protostars. The detection of a similar peak in the disk around V883 Ori, an FU Orionis-type star with an unknown eruption date, suggests that such features may be common in the post-outburst objects.