### Zombie Vortex Instability I: The "Dead" Zones of Protoplanetary Disks are Not Dead

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There has been considerable interest in purely hydrodynamic instabilities in the dead zones of protoplanetary disks (PPDs) as a mechanism for driving angular momentum transport and as a source of vortices to incubate planetesimal formation. We present a series of numerical simulations with both a pseudo-spectral anelastic code and the fully compressible Godunov finite-volume code Athena, showing that stably stratified flows in a shearing, rotating box are violently unstable and produce space-filling, sustained turbulence dominated by large vortices with Rossby numbers of order 0.2-0.3. This Zombie Vortex Instability (ZVI) is observed in both codes and is triggered by initial Kolmogorov turbulence with Mach numbers less than 0.01. ZVI is robust and requires no special tuning of cooling times, boundary conditions, or initial radial entropy or vortensity gradients. ZVI has not been seen in previous studies of flows in a rotating, shearing box because those calculations frequently lacked vertical density stratification and/or sufficient numerical resolution. Although we do not observe appreciable angular momentum transport from ZVI in small domains, we hypothesize that ZVI in larger domains with the fully compressible equations may lead to significant angular transport via spiral density waves launched by vortices. In a companion paper, we derive the instability criterion for ZVI; although ZVI is a subcritical instability, rather than a linear one, we show that initial Kolmogorov noise with Mach number no greater than 10^{-6} will trigger ZVI.