Saturday, September 26, 2015

Protoplanetary DisK Fragmentation Rarely Forms Exoplanets

Disc fragmentation rarely forms planetary-mass objects


Rice et al


It is now reasonably clear that disc fragmentation can only operate in the outer parts of protostellar discs (r greater than 50 au). It is also expected that any object that forms via disc fragmentation will have an initial mass greater than that of Jupiter. However, whether or not such a process actually operates, or can play a significant role in the formation of planetary-mass objects, is still unclear. We do have a few examples of directly imaged objects that may have formed in this way, but we have yet to constrain how often disc fragmentation may actually form such objects. What we want to consider here is whether or not we can constrain the likely population of planetary-mass objects formed via disc fragmentation by considering how a population of objects at large radii (a greater than 50) au - if they do exist - would evolve under perturbations from more distant stellar companions. We find that there is a specific region of parameter space to which such objects would be scattered and show that the known exoplanets in that region have properties more consistent with that of the bulk exoplanet population, than with having been formed via disc fragmentation at large radii. Along with the scarcity of directly-imaged objects at large radii, our results provide a similar, but independent, constraint on the frequency of objects formed via disc fragmentation.

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