PLANET FORMATION IN STELLAR BINARIES. II. OVERCOMING THE FRAGMENTATION BARRIER IN α CENTAURI AND γ CEPHEI-LIKE SYSTEMS
Rafikov et al
Planet formation in small-separation (~20 AU) eccentric binaries such as γ Cephei or α Centauri is believed to be adversely affected by the presence of the stellar companion. Strong dynamical excitation of planetesimals by the eccentric companion can result in collisional destruction (rather than growth) of 1-100 km objects, giving rise to the "fragmentation barrier" for planet formation. We revise this issue using a novel description of secular dynamics of planetesimals in binaries, which accounts for the gravity of the eccentric, coplanar protoplanetary disk, as well as gas drag. By studying planetesimal collision outcomes, we show, in contrast to many previous studies, that planetesimal growth and subsequent formation of planets (including gas giants) in AU-scale orbits within ~20 AU separation binaries may be possible, provided that the protoplanetary disks are massive (gsim 10–2 M ☉) and only weakly eccentric (disk eccentricity lsim 0.01). These requirements are compatible with both the existence of massive (several MJ ) planets in γ Cep-like systems and the results of recent simulations of gaseous disks in eccentric binaries. Terrestrial and Neptune-like planets can also form in lower-mass disks at small (sub-AU) radii. We find that the fragmentation barrier is less of a problem in eccentric disks that are apsidally aligned with the binary orbit. Alignment gives rise to special locations, where (1) relative planetesimal velocities are low and (2) the timescale of their drag-induced radial drift is long. This causes planetesimal pileup at such locations in the disk and promotes their growth locally, helping to alleviate the timescale problem for core formation.