Tuesday, June 28, 2016

On the Formation of Super-Earths with Implications for the Solar System

On the Formation of Super-Earths with Implications for the Solar System


Martin et al


We first consider how the level of turbulence in a protoplanetary disk affects the formation locations for the observed close-in super-Earths in exosolar systems. We find that a protoplanetary disk that includes a dead zone (a region of low turbulence) has substantially more material in the inner parts of the disk, possibly allowing for in situ formation. For the dead zone to last the entire lifetime of the disk requires the active layer surface density to be sufficiently small, less than 100 g/cm^2. Migration through a dead zone may be very slow and thus super-Earth formation followed by migration towards the star through the dead zone is less likely. For fully turbulent disks, there is not enough material for in situ formation. However, in this case, super-Earths can form farther out in the disk and migrate inwards on a reasonable timescale. We suggest that both of these formation mechanisms operate in different planetary systems. This can help to explain the observed large range in densities of super-Earths because the formation location determines the composition. Furthermore, we speculate that super-Earths could have formed in the inner parts of our solar system and cleared the material in the region inside of Mercury's orbit. The super-Earths could migrate through the gas disk and fall into the Sun if the disk was sufficiently cool during the final gas disk accretion process. While it is definitely possible to meet all of these requirements, we don't expect them to occur in all systems, which may explain why the solar system is somewhat special in its lack of super-Earths.

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