Saturday, January 7, 2017

The tidal downsizing hypothesis of planet formation




Tidal Downsizing is the modern version of the Kuiper (1951) scenario of planet formation. Detailed simulations of self-gravitating discs, gas fragments, dust grain dynamics, and planet evolutionary calculations are summarised here and used to build a predictive planet formation model and population synthesis. A new interpretation of exoplanetary and debris disc data, the Solar System's origins, and the links between planets and brown dwarfs is offered. This interpretation is contrasted with the current observations and the predictions of the Core Accretion theory. Observations that can distinguish the two scenarios are pointed out. In particular, Tidal Downsizing predicts that presence of debris discs, sub-Neptune mass planets, planets more massive than ∼5~Jupiter masses and brown dwarfs should not correlate strongly with the metallicity of the host. For gas giants of ∼ Saturn to a few Jupiter mass, a strong host star metallicity correlation is predicted only inwards of a few AU from the host. Composition of massive cores is predicted to be dominated by rock rather than ices. Debris discs made by Tidal Downsizing are distinct from those made by Core Accretion at birth: they have an innermost edge always larger than about 1 au, have smaller total masses and are usually in a dynamically excited state. It is argued that planet formation in surprisingly young or very dynamic systems such as HL Tau and Kepler-444 may be a signature of Tidal Downsizing. Open questions and potential weaknesses of the hypothesis are pointed out.

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