Saturday, March 28, 2015

Can gas-Planetesimal Friction Explain the Formation of SuperEarths/Mini Neptunes?

Application of gas dynamical friction for planetesimals: I. Evolution of single planetesimals


Grishin et al


One of the first stages of planet formation is the growth of small planetesimals. This stage occurs much before the dispersal of most of the gas from the protoplanetary disk. For small planetesimals, aerodynamic gas drag keeps their relative velocities low and enhances their growth rate. For large protoplanets, m~0.1M_Earth, the net torque due to spiral density waves causes the planet to migrate. There is an additional mass range, m~10^21-10^25 g of intermediate size planetesimals, where gas dynamical friction (GDF) dominates over aerodynamic gas drag, and the net torque of spiral density waves is negligible. Recently, GDF has been studied in the context of fully evolved planets. However, current studies of gas-planetesimal interaction do not account for planetesimal evolution due to GDF in the range of intermediate mass planetesimals (IMPs). Here, we study the implications of GDF on single IMPs by including GDF into few-body simulations of their evolution. We find that planetesimals with small inclinations dissipate their inclinations and rapidly become co-planar with the disk. Eccentric orbits circularize within a few Myrs, provided the the planetesimal mass is sufficiently large, m less than 10^23 g and that the initial eccentricity is sufficiently low, e less than 0.1. Planetesimals of higher masses, m~10^24-10^25 g lose their orbital energy on a time-scale of a few Myrs, leading to an embryonic migration to the inner disk. This may lead to an over-abundance of rocky material (in the form of IMPs) in the inner protoplanetary disk (less than 1AU). In turn, this may induce rapid planetary growth in these regions, and may help explain the origin of super-Earth planets found close to their host stars. In addition, GDF assists in damping the velocities of IMPs, thereby cooling the planetesimal disk and affecting its collisional evolution through quenching the effects of viscous stirring by the large bodies.

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