Monday, September 7, 2015

10% of Exoplanetary Systems are Predicted to be Like our Solar System

Warm Debris Disks Produced by Giant Impacts During Terrestrial Planet Formation


Genda et al


In our solar system, Mars-sized protoplanets frequently collided with each other during the last stage of terrestrial planet formation called the giant impact stage. Giant impacts eject a large amount of material from the colliding protoplanets into the terrestrial planet region, which may form debris disks with observable infrared excesses. Indeed, tens of warm debris disks around young solar-type stars have been observed. Here, we quantitatively estimate the total mass of ejected materials during the giant impact stages. We found that ∼0.4 times the Earth's mass is ejected in total throughout the giant impact stage. Ejected materials are ground down by collisional cascade until micron-sized grains are blown out by radiation pressure. The depletion timescale of these ejected materials is determined primarily by the mass of the largest body among them. We conducted high-resolution simulations of giant impacts to accurately obtain the mass of the largest ejected body. We then calculated the evolution of the debris disks produced by a series of giant impacts and depleted by collisional cascades to obtain the infrared excess evolution of the debris disks. We found that the infrared excess is almost always higher than the stellar infrared flux throughout the giant impact stage (∼100 Myr) and is sometimes ∼10 times higher immediately after a giant impact. Therefore, giant impact stages would explain the infrared excess from most observed warm debris disks. The observed fraction of stars with warm debris disks indicates that the formation probability of our solar system-like terrestrial planets is approximately 10%

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