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TOPIC: Planet Formation


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RE: Planet Formation
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Earth may have been born in a huge flare-up of the young sun

Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. They're mostly made of rock and iron - whose particles don't readily stick together.
They could have been sticky enough if they had a coating of snow and organic goo. But despite all Earth's oceans and carbon-based life, our planet has too little water or carbon to support this explanation.
Alexander Hubbard at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, has suggested an intriguing solution to Earth's difficult birth. In 1936, an infant star began to brighten, eventually shining over 100 times more brightly than it did originally. Now named FU Orionis, this star has stayed bright ever since. And several other stellar youngsters have done the same thing.
What if the newborn sun also did this? The outburst would have partially melted dust grains, making them sticky enough to become the seeds of Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

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Terrestrial Planet Formation
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Title: Warm Debris Disks Produced by Giant Impacts During Terrestrial Planet Formation
Author: H. Genda, H. Kobayashi, E. Kokubo

In our solar system, Mars-sized protoplanets frequently collided with each other during the last stage of terrestrial planet formation called the giant impact stage. Giant impacts eject a large amount of material from the colliding protoplanets into the terrestrial planet region, which may form debris disks with observable infrared excesses. Indeed, tens of warm debris disks around young solar-type stars have been observed. Here, we quantitatively estimate the total mass of ejected materials during the giant impact stages. We found that ~0.4 times the Earth's mass is ejected in total throughout the giant impact stage. Ejected materials are ground down by collisional cascade until micron-sized grains are blown out by radiation pressure. The depletion timescale of these ejected materials is determined primarily by the mass of the largest body among them. We conducted high-resolution simulations of giant impacts to accurately obtain the mass of the largest ejected body. We then calculated the evolution of the debris disks produced by a series of giant impacts and depleted by collisional cascades to obtain the infrared excess evolution of the debris disks. We found that the infrared excess is almost always higher than the stellar infrared flux throughout the giant impact stage (~100 Myr) and is sometimes ~10 times higher immediately after a giant impact. Therefore, giant impact stages would explain the infrared excess from most observed warm debris disks. The observed fraction of stars with warm debris disks indicates that the formation probability of our solar system-like terrestrial planets is approximately 10%.

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SwRI scientists think "planetary pebbles" were the building blocks for the largest planets

Researchers at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Queen's University in Canada have unravelled the mystery of how Jupiter and Saturn likely formed. This discovery, which changes our view of how all planets might have formed, will be published in the Aug. 20 issue of Nature.
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Title: From stellar nebula to planetesimals
Author: Ulysse Marboeuf, Amaury Thiabaud, Yann Alibert, Nahuel Cabral, Willy Benz

Solar and extrasolar comets and extrasolar planets are the subject of numerous studies in order to determine their chemical composition and internal structure. In the case of planetesimals, their compositions are important as they govern in part the composition of future planets. The present works aims at determining the chemical composition of icy planetesimals, believed to be similar to present day comets, formed in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. The main objective of this work is to provide valuable theoretical data on chemical composition for models of planetesimals and comets, and models of planet formation and evolution. We have developed a model that calculates the composition of ices formed during the cooling of the stellar nebula. Coupled with a model of refractory element formation, it allows us to determine the chemical composition and mass ratio of ices to rocks in icy planetesimals throughout in the protoplanetary disc. We provide relationships for ice line positions (for different volatile species) in the disc, and chemical compositions and mass ratios of ice relative to rock for icy planetesimals in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. From an initial homogeneous composition of the nebula, a wide variety of chemical compositions of planetesimals were produced as a function of the mass of the disc and distance to the star. Ices incorporated in planetesimals are mainly composed of H2O, CO, CO2, CH3OH, and NH3. The ice/rock mass ratio is equal to 1+-0.5 in icy planetesimals following assumptions. This last value is in good agreement with observations of solar system comets, but remains lower than usual assumptions made in planet formation models, taking this ratio to be of 2-3.

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Title: From planetesimals to planets: volatile molecules
Author: Ulysse Marboeuf, Amaury Thiabaud, Yann Alibert, Nahuel Cabral, Willy Benz

Solar and extrasolar planets are the subject of numerous studies aiming to determine their chemical composition and internal structure. In the case of extrasolar planets, the composition is important as it partly governs their potential habitability. Moreover, observational determination of chemical composition of planetary atmospheres are becoming available, especially for transiting planets. The present works aims at determining the chemical composition of planets formed in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. The main objective of this work is to provide valuable theoretical data for models of planet formation and evolution, and future interpretation of chemical composition of solar and extrasolar planets. We have developed a model that computes the composition of ices in planets in different stellar systems with the use of models of ice and planetary formation. We provide the chemical composition, ice/rock mass ratio and C:O molar ratio for planets in stellar systems of solar chemical composition. From an initial homogeneous composition of the nebula, we produce a wide variety of planetary chemical compositions as a function of the mass of the disk and distance to the star. The volatile species incorporated in planets are mainly composed of H2O, CO, CO2, CH3OH, and NH3. Icy or ocean planets have systematically higher values of molecular abundances compared to giant and rocky planets. Gas giant planets are depleted in highly volatile molecules such as CH4, CO, and N2 compared to icy or ocean planets. The ice/rock mass ratio in icy or ocean and gas giant planets is, respectively, equal at maximum to 1.01+-0.33 and 0.8+-0.5, and is different from the usual assumptions made in planet formation models, which suggested this ratio to be 2-3. The C:O molar ratio in the atmosphere of gas giant planets is depleted by at least 30% compared to solar value.

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Title: Ice condensation as a planet formation mechanism
Authors: Katrin Ros, Anders Johansen

We show that condensation is an efficient particle growth mechanism, leading to growth beyond decimetre-sized pebbles close to an ice line in protoplanetary discs. As coagulation of dust particles is frustrated by bouncing and fragmentation, condensation could be a complementary, or even dominant, growth mode in the early stages of planet formation. Ice particles diffuse across the ice line and sublimate, and vapour diffusing back across the ice line recondenses onto already existing particles, causing them to grow. We develop a numerical model of the dynamical behaviour of ice particles close to the water ice line, approximately 3 AU from the host star. Particles move with the turbulent gas, modelled as a random walk. They also sediment towards the midplane and drift radially towards the central star. Condensation and sublimation are calculated using a Monte Carlo approach. Our results indicate that, with a turbulent alpha-value of 0.01, growth from millimetre to at least decimetre-sized pebbles is possible on a time scale of 1000 years. We find that particle growth is dominated by ice and vapour transport across the radial ice line, with growth due to transport across the atmospheric ice line being negligible. Ice particles mix outwards by turbulent diffusion, leading to net growth across the entire cold region. The resulting particles are large enough to be sensitive to concentration by streaming instabilities, and in pressure bumps and vortices, which can cause further growth into planetesimals. In our model, particles are considered to be homogeneous ice particles. Taking into account the more realistic composition of ice condensed onto rocky ice nuclei might affect the growth time scales, by release of refractory ice nuclei after sublimation. We also ignore sticking and fragmentation in particle collisions. These effects will be the subject of future investigations.

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Title: How fast do Jupiters grow? Signatures of the snowline and growth rate in the distribution of gas giant planets
Authors: Ken Rice, Matthew T. Penny, Keith Horne

We present here observational evidence that the snowline plays a significant role in the formation and evolution of gas giant planets. When considering the population of observed exoplanets, we find a boundary in mass-semimajor axis space that suggests planets are preferentially found beyond the snowline prior to undergoing gap-opening inward migration and associated gas accretion. This is consistent with theoretical models suggesting that sudden changes in opacity -- as would occur at the snowline -- can influence core migration. Furthermore, population synthesis modelling suggests that this boundary implies that gas giant planets accrete ~ 70 % of the inward flowing gas, allowing ~ 30$ % through to the inner disc. This is qualitatively consistent with observations of transition discs suggesting the presence of inner holes, despite there being ongoing gas accretion.

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Accretion-disk model
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Why Is Earth So Dry?

A new analysis of the common accretion-disk model explaining how planets form in a debris disk around our Sun, uncovered a possible reason for Earth's comparative dryness. In this study astrophysicists Rebecca Martin and Mario Livio found that our planet formed from rocky debris in a dry, hotter region, inside of the so-called "snow line." The snow line in our solar system currently lies in the middle of the asteroid belt, a reservoir of rubble between Mars and Jupiter; beyond this point, the Sun's light is too weak to melt the icy debris left over from the protoplanetary disk. Previous accretion-disk models suggested that the snow line was much closer to the Sun 4.5 billion years ago, when Earth formed.
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Study in Nature sheds new light on planet formation

A study published in the July 5 edition of the journal Nature is challenging scientists' understanding of planet formation, suggesting that planets might form much faster than previously thought or, alternatively, that stars harbouring planets could be far more numerous.
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Title: Debris from terrestrial planet formation: the Moon-forming collision
Authors: Alan P. Jackson, Mark C. Wyatt

We study the evolution of debris created in the giant impacts expected during the final stages of terrestrial planet formation. The starting point is the debris created in a simulation of the Moon-forming impact. The dynamical evolution is followed for 10 Myr including the effects of Earth, Venus, Mars and Jupiter. The spatial distribution evolves from a clump in the first few months to an asymmetric ring for the first 10 kyr and finally becoming an axisymmetric ring by about 1 Myr after the impact. By 10 Myr after the impact 20% of the particles have been accreted onto Earth and 17% onto Venus, with 8% ejected by Jupiter and other bodies playing minor roles. However, the fate of the debris also depends strongly on how fast it is collisionally depleted, which depends on the poorly constrained size distribution of the impact debris. Assuming that the debris is made up of 30% by mass mm-cm-sized vapour condensates and 70% boulders up to 500 km, we find that the condensates deplete rapidly on ~1000 yr timescales, whereas the boulders deplete predominantly dynamically. By considering the luminosity of dust produced in collisions within the boulder-debris distribution we find that the Moon-forming impact would have been readily detectable around other stars in Spitzer 24 micron surveys for around 25 Myr after the impact, with levels of emission comparable to many known hot dust systems. The vapour condensates meanwhile produce a short-lived, optically thick, spike of emission. We use these surveys to make an estimate of the fraction of stars that form terrestrial planets, F_TPF. Since current terrestrial planet formation models invoke multiple giant impacts, the low fraction of 10-100 Myr stars found to have warm (~150 K) dust implies that F_TPF ~<10%.

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