Prompt Planetesimal Formation Beyond the Snow Line

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 15, 2016
Filed under
Prompt Planetesimal Formation Beyond the Snow Line

We develop a simple model to predict the radial distribution of planetesimal formation. The model is based on the observed growth of dust to mm-sized particles, which drift radially, pile-up, and form planetesimals where the stopping time and dust-to-gas ratio intersect the allowed region for streaming instability-induced gravitational collapse.

Using an approximate analytic treatment, we first show that drifting particles define a track in metallicity–stopping time space whose only substantial dependence is on the disk’s angular momentum transport efficiency. Prompt planetesimal formation is feasible for high particle accretion rates (relative to the gas, M˙p/M˙>3×10−2 for α=10−2), that could only be sustained for a limited period of time. If it is possible, it would lead to the deposition of a broad and massive belt of planetesimals with a sharp outer edge. Including turbulent diffusion and vapor condensation processes numerically, we find that a modest enhancement of solids near the snow line occurs for cm-sized particles, but that this is largely immaterial for planetesimal formation.

We note that radial drift couples planetesimal formation across radii in the disk, and suggest that considerations of planetesimal formation favor a model in which the initial deposition of material for giant planet cores occurs well beyond the snow line.

Philip J. Armitage, Josh A. Eisner, Jacob B. Simon
(Submitted on 11 Aug 2016)

Comments: ApJ Letters, in press
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1608.03592 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1608.03592v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Philip Armitage
[v1] Thu, 11 Aug 2016 20:00:05 GMT (80kb)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻