Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gas Giants Need Lots of Icy Planetesimals to Form


Venturini et al


We compute, for the first time, self-consistent models of planet growth including the effect of envelope enrichment. The change of envelope metallicity is assumed to be the result of planetesimal disruption or icy pebble sublimation. We solve internal structure equations taking into account global energy conservation for the envelope to compute in-situ planetary growth. We consider different opacities and equations of state suited for a wide range of metallicities. We find that envelope enrichment speeds up the formation of gas giants. It also explains naturally the formation of low and intermediate mass objects with large fractions of H-He (~ 20 - 30 % in mass). High opacity models explain well the metallicity of the giant planets of the solar system, whereas low opacity models are suited for forming small mass objects with thick H-He envelopes and gas giants with sub-solar envelope metallicities. We find good agreement between our models and the estimated water abundance for WASP-43b. For HD 189733b, HD 209458b and WASP-12b we predict fractions of water larger than what is estimated from observations, by at least a factor ~ 2. Envelope enrichment by icy planetesimals is the natural scenario to explain the formation of a large variety of objects, ranging from mini-Neptunes, to gas giants. We predict that the total and envelope metallicity decrease with planetary mass.

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