Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Exploring plausible formation scenarios for the planet candidate orbiting Proxima Centauri


Coleman et al


We present a study of 4 different formation scenarios that may explain the origin of the recently announced planet `Proxima b' orbiting the star Proxima Centauri. The aim is to examine how the formation scenarios differ in their predictions for the multiplicity of the Proxima planetary system, the water/volatile content of Proxima b and its eccentricity, so that these can be tested by future observations. A scenario of in situ formation via giant impacts from a locally enhanced disc of planetary embryos and planetesimals, predicts that Proxima b will be a member of a multiplanet system with a measurably finite value of orbital eccentricity. Assuming that the local solid enhancement needed to form a Proxima b analogue with a minimum mass of 1.3 Earth masses arises because of the inwards drift of solids in the form of small planetesimals/boulders, this scenario also likely results in Proxima b analogues that are moderately endowed with water/volatiles, arising from the dynamical diffusion of icy planetesimals from beyond the snowline during planetary assembly. A scenario in which multiple embryos form, migrate and mutually collide within a gaseous protoplanetary disc also results in Proxima b being a member of a multiple system, but where its members are Ocean planets due to accretion occurring mainly outside of the snowline, possibly within mean motion resonances. A scenario in which a single accreting embryo forms at large distance from the star, and migrates inwards while accreting either planetesimals/pebbles results in Proxima b being an isolated Ocean planet on a circular orbit. A scenario in which Proxima b formed via pebble accretion interior to the snowline produces a dry planet on a circular orbit. Future observations that characterise the physical/orbital properties of Proxima b, and the multiplicity of the system, will provide valuable insight into its formation history.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.