Monday, August 28, 2017

Constraining the Compositions of the TRAPPIST-1 Planets to Trace Snow Lines and Migration in M Dwarf Disks

Constraining the Compositions of the TRAPPIST-1 Planets to Trace Snow Lines and Migration in M Dwarf Disks


Unterborn et al


The TRAPPIST-1 system, containing 7 transiting planets with constrained masses and radii, offers a singular opportunity to understand planet formation in another system. Not only can individual planets' bulk compositions be inferred, variations in composition (with respect to distance from the star) probe the composition of the TRAPPIST-1 disk and test models of planet formation. Other studies have shown that many of the TRAPPIST-1 planets are lower in density than rock and must either possess thick atmospheres or substantial liquid water/ice. The small masses of the planets argue against atmospheres. We use our ExoPlex mass-radius software package to constrain the fraction of each planet mass that is water. While we concur that planets f and g contain substantial (>50wt%) water/ice, we find b must be ≥6−8wt% water, but c must be ≤6−8wt% water. Since volatile fraction should increase with distance, the simplest interpretation is that both b and c each contain ≈7wt% water. Planets formed outside the snow line of TRAPPIST-1's disk are expected to contain ∼50wt% water ice like f and g, but the much lower ice abundances of b and c imply they formed inside the snow line. The TRAPPIST-1 system is marked by multiple mean motion resonances; for this and other reasons, substantial inward migration of the planets to their present orbits is inferred. We calculate the location of the snow line in the TRAPPIST-1 disk as a function of time. Depending on how rapidly the planets formed, the TRAPPIST-1 planets are at 1/2 to 1/8 of their starting distances from the star. While we infer that b and c formed inside the snow line, they contain much more water than planets formed inside the snow line in the Solar System (Earth is less than 0.1 wt% water), implying that the volatile gradient in TRAPPIST-1 was more gradual than in the Solar System.

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