Min-Kai Lin

Theoretical Astrophysicist

Hello there.

I am an astrophysicist currently working as a post-doctoral fellow at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in the University of Toronto. Please click the links at the top for more information. 

Images above are taken from 3D hydrodynamic simulations of self-gravitating protoplanetary disks containing a Jupiter-mass planet. Giant planets are expected to open gaps in gaseous protoplanetary disks. Under appropriate conditions these gaps are dynamically unstable to shear instabilities. These simulations show that the character of instability depends on disk mass (or more correctly, the strength of disk self-gravity): a massive disk (left) develops a `gravitational edge instability'; while intermediate and low mass disks (middle and right) undergo vortex formation through the `Rossby wave instability'.

These large-scale structures are observable with, for example, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). In fact, circumstellar disks with large inner dust cavities --- transition disks --- with lopsided dust distributions have been observed. Recent examples include the disk around Oph IRS 48 and LkHa 330. They have been interpreted as dust-trapping by vortices formed at the outer edge of a gap opened by one or more unseen giant planets.