Monday, February 15, 2016

Terrestrial Worlds Could Acquire Water Through Pebble Accretion Past the Snowline and MIgrate

On the water delivery to terrestrial embryos by ice pebble accretion


Sato et al


Standard accretion disk models suggest that the snow line in the solar nebula migrated interior to the Earth's orbit in a late stage of nebula evolution. In this late stage, a significant amount of ice could have been delivered to 1 AU from outer regions in the form of mm to dm-sized "pebbles." This raises the question why the present Earth is so depleted of water (with the ocean mass being as small as 0.023% of the Earth mass). Here we quantify the amount of icy pebbles accreted by terrestrial embryos after the migration of the snow line assuming that no mechanism halts the pebble flow in outer disk regions. We use a simplified version of the coagulation equation to calculate the formation and radial inward drift of icy pebbles in a protoplanetary disk. The pebble accretion cross section of an embryo is calculated using analytic expressions presented by recent studies. We find that the final mass and water content of terrestrial embryos strongly depends on the radial extent of the gas disk, the strength of disk turbulence, and the time at which the snow lines arrives at 1 AU. The disk's radial extent sets the lifetime of the pebble flow, while turbulence determines the density of pebbles at the midplane where the embryos reside. We find that the final water content of the embryos falls below 0.023 wt% only if the disk is compact (less than 100 AU), turbulence is strong at 1 AU, and the snow line arrives at 1 AU later than 2-4 Myr after disk formation. If the solar nebula extended to 300 AU, initially rocky embryos would have evolved into icy planets of 1-10 Earth masses unless the snow-line migration was slow. If the proto-Earth contained water of ~ 1 wt% as might be suggested by the density deficit of the Earth's outer core, the formation of the proto-Earth was possible with weaker turbulence and with earlier (greater than 0.5-2 Myr) snow-line migration.

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