full text pdf (2.0Mb), accepted to MNRAS 17 May 2013 |

In this paper we analyse the propagation of warps in protostellar circumbinary discs. We use these systems as a test environment in which to study warp propagation in the bending wave regime, with the addition of an external torque due to the binary gravitational potential. In particular, we want to test the linear regime, for which an analytic theory has been developed. In order to do so, we first compute analytically the steady state shape of an inviscid disc subject to the binary torques. The steady state tilt is a monotonically increasing function of radius, but misalignment is found at the disc inner edge. In the absence of viscosity, the disc does not present any twist. Then, we compare the time-dependent evolution of the warped disc calculated via the known linearised equations both with the analytic solutions and with full 3D numerical simulations. The simulations have been performed with the PHANTOM SPH code using 2 million particles. We find a good agreement both in the tilt and in the phase evolution for small inclinations, even at very low viscosities. Moreover, we have verified that the linearised equations are able to reproduce the diffusive behaviour when alpha > H/R, where alpha is the disc viscosity parameter. Finally, we have used the 3D simulations to explore the non-linear regime. We observe a strongly non-linear behaviour, which leads to the breaking of the disc. Then, the inner disc starts precessing with its own precessional frequency. This behaviour has already been observed with numerical simulations in accretion discs around spinning black holes. The evolution of circumstellar accretion discs strongly depends on the warp evolution. Therefore the issue explored in this paper could be of fundamental importance in order to understand the evolution of accretion discs in crowded environments, when the gravitational interaction with other stars is highly likely, and in multiple systems. Moreover, the evolution of the angular momentum of the disc will affect the history of the angular momentum of forming planets.

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Snapshots from the calculations: | |