Planet formation models: the interplay with the planetesimal disc

Fortier, Andrea; Alibert, Yann; Carron, F.; Benz, Willy; Dittkrist, K.-M. (2013). Planet formation models: the interplay with the planetesimal disc. Astronomy and astrophysics, 549, A44. EDP Sciences 10.1051/0004-6361/201220241

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Context. According to the sequential accretion model (or core-nucleated accretion model), giant planet formation is based first on the formation of a solid core which, when massive enough, can gravitationally bind gas from the nebula to form the envelope. The most critical part of the model is the formation time of the core: to trigger the accretion of gas, the core has to grow up to several Earth masses before the gas component of the protoplanetary disc dissipates. Aims: We calculate planetary formation models including a detailed description of the dynamics of the planetesimal disc, taking into account both gas drag and excitation of forming planets. Methods: We computed the formation of planets, considering the oligarchic regime for the growth of the solid core. Embryos growing in the disc stir their neighbour planetesimals, exciting their relative velocities, which makes accretion more difficult. Here we introduce a more realistic treatment for the evolution of planetesimals' relative velocities, which directly impact on the formation timescale. For this, we computed the excitation state of planetesimals, as a result of stirring by forming planets, and gas-solid interactions. Results: We find that the formation of giant planets is favoured by the accretion of small planetesimals, as their random velocities are more easily damped by the gas drag of the nebula. Moreover, the capture radius of a protoplanet with a (tiny) envelope is also larger for small planetesimals. However, planets migrate as a result of disc-planet angular momentum exchange, with important consequences for their survival: due to the slow growth of a protoplanet in the oligarchic regime, rapid inward type I migration has important implications on intermediate-mass planets that have not yet started their runaway accretion phase of gas. Most of these planets are lost in the central star. Surviving planets have masses either below 10 M⊕ or above several Jupiter masses. Conclusions: To form giant planets before the dissipation of the disc, small planetesimals (~0.1 km) have to be the major contributors of the solid accretion process. However, the combination of oligarchic growth and fast inward migration leads to the absence of intermediate-mass planets. Other processes must therefore be at work to explain the population of extrasolar planets that are presently known.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences > Theoretical Astrophysics and Planetary Science (TAPS)
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Fortier, Andrea; Alibert, Yann and Benz, Willy


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering
500 Science > 530 Physics




EDP Sciences




Cléa Serpollier

Date Deposited:

14 Aug 2014 09:54

Last Modified:

25 Aug 2016 14:43

Publisher DOI:





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