Friday, December 30, 2016

Why are pulsar planets rare?


Martin et al


Pulsar timing observations have revealed planets around only a few pulsars. We suggest that the rarity of these planets is due mainly to two effects. First, we show that the most likely formation mechanism requires the destruction of a companion star. Only pulsars with a suitable companion (with an extreme mass ratio) are able to form planets. Second, while a dead zone (a region of low turbulence) in the disk is generally thought to be essential for planet formation, it is most probably rare in disks around pulsars because of the irradiation from the pulsar. The irradiation strongly heats the inner parts of the disk pushing the inner boundary of the dead zone out. We suggest that the rarity of pulsar planets can be explained by the low probability for these two requirements - a very low-mass companion and a dead zone - to be satisfied.

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