The moon and the planets

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 5–40 | Cite as

Physics of the primitive solar accretion disk

  • A. G. W. Cameron


The theory of viscous accretion disks developed by Lynden-Bell and Pringle has been applied to the evolution of the primitive solar nebula. The additional physical input needed to determine the structure of the disk is described. A series of calculations was carried out using a steady flow approximation to explore the effects on the disk properties of variations in such parameters as the angular momentum and accretion rate of the infalling material from a collapsing interstellar cloud fragment. The more detailed evolutionary calculations involved five cases with various combinations of parameters. It was concluded that the late stages of evolution of the disks would be dominated by the effects of mass loss from the expansion of a hot disk corona into space, and the effects of this were included in the evolutionary calculations. A new theory of comet formation is formulated upon these results. The most important result is the conclusion, which appears to be inescapable, that the primitive solar accretion disk was repeatedly unstable against axisymmetric perturbations, in which rings would form and collapse upon themselves, with the subsequent formation of giant gaseous protoplanets.


Steady Flow Evolutionary Calculation Accretion Disk Accretion Rate Flow Approximation 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. G. W. Cameron
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for AstrophysicsHarvard College Observatory and Smithsonian Astrophysical ObservatoryCambridgeU.S.A.

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