From planetesimals to planets: volatile molecules

Marboeuf, Ulysse; Thiabaud, Amaury; Alibert, Yann; Cabral, Nahuel; Benz, Willy (2014). From planetesimals to planets: volatile molecules. Astronomy and astrophysics, 570, A36. EDP Sciences 10.1051/0004-6361/201423431

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Context. Solar and extrasolar planets are the subject of numerous studies aiming to determine their chemical composition and internal structure. In the case of extrasolar planets, the composition is important as it partly governs their potential habitability. Moreover, observational determination of chemical composition of planetary atmospheres are becoming available, especially for transiting planets. Aims. The present works aims at determining the chemical composition of planets formed in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. The main objective of this work is to provide valuable theoretical data for models of planet formation and evolution, and future interpretation of chemical composition of solar and extrasolar planets. Methods. We have developed a model that computes the composition of ices in planets in different stellar systems with the use of models of ice and planetary formation. Results. We provide the chemical composition, ice/rock mass ratio and C:O molar ratio for planets in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. From an initial homogeneous composition of the nebula, we produce a wide variety of planetary chemical compositions as a function of the mass of the disk and distance to the star. The volatile species incorporated in planets are mainly composed of H2O, CO, CO2, CH3OH, and NH3. Icy or ocean planets have systematically higher values of molecular abundances compared to giant and rocky planets. Gas giant planets are depleted in highly volatile molecules such as CH4, CO, and N2 compared to icy or ocean planets. The ice/rock mass ratio in icy or ocean and gas giant planets is, respectively, equal at maximum to 1.01 ± 0.33 and 0.8 ± 0.5, and is different from the usual assumptions made in planet formation models, which suggested this ratio to be 2–3. The C:O molar ratio in the atmosphere of gas giant planets is depleted by at least 30% compared to solar value.

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:

Marboeuf, Ulysse; Thiabaud, Amaury; Alibert, Yann; Cabral, Nahuel and Benz, Willy


500 Science > 530 Physics




EDP Sciences




Cléa Serpollier

Date Deposited:

12 May 2015 09:00

Last Modified:

25 Aug 2016 14:27

Publisher DOI:





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