Exoplanets & Exomoons

Isotopically Distinct Terrestrial Planets Via Local Accretion

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 20, 2020
Filed under
Isotopically Distinct Terrestrial Planets Via Local Accretion
Terrestrial planets

Combining isotopic constraints from meteorite data with dynamical models of planet formation proves to be advantageous in identifying the best model for terrestrial planet formation.

Prior studies have shown that the probability of reproducing the distinct isotopic compositions of the Earth and Mars for both classical and Grand Tack models is very low. In the framework of the Grand Tack model, for Mars to be isotopically different from the Earth, it had to form under very specific conditions. Here, we subjected a fairly new and unexplored model–the depleted disc model–to the test. It presupposes that the region in the inner protoplanetary disc from Mars’ orbit and beyond is depleted in mass such that Mars is left with insufficient material to grow to a larger size. Our aim is to test the whether the distinct isotopic compositions of the Earth and Mars are a natural outcome of this model.

We found that the terrestrial planets accrete material mostly locally and have feeding zones that are sufficiently distinct. The Earth and Mars, and by extension, Venus, can have distinct isotopic compositions if there is an isotopic gradient in the terrestrial planet region of the protoplanetary disc. Our results suggest that the material in the inner Solar System most likely did not undergo substantial mixing that homogenised the potential isotopic gradient, in contrast to the Grand Tack model where the feeding zones of the terrestrial planets are nearly identical due to the mixing of material by Jupiter’s migration.

Jingyi Mah, Ramon Brasser
Comments: 18 pages, 11 figures, 2 tables, accepted for publication in Icarus
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2008.08850 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2008.08850v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Jingyi Mah
[v1] Thu, 20 Aug 2020 09:22:13 UTC (297 KB)

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) 🖖🏻