Formation of Massive Rocky Exomoons by Giant Impact

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Amy C. Barr, Megan Bruck Syal
(Submitted on 10 Jan 2017)

The formation of satellites is thought to be a natural by-product of planet formation in our Solar System, and thus, moons of extrasolar planets (exomoons) may be abundant in extrasolar planetary systems, as well. Exomoons have yet to be discovered. However, moons larger than 0.1 Earth masses can be detected and characterized using current transit techniques. Here, we show that collisions between rocky planets with masses between a quarter to ten Earth masses can create impact-generated debris disks that could accrete into moons. Collisions between like-sized objects, at oblique impact angles, and velocities near escape speed create disks massive enough to form satellites that are dynamically stable against planetary tides. Impacts of this type onto a superearth between 2 to 7 Earth masses can launch into orbit enough mass to create a satellite large enough to be detected in Kepler transit data. Impact velocity is a crucial controlling factor on disk mass, which has been overlooked in all prior studies of moon formation via planetary collision.

Comments:    8 pages, 7 figures
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1701.02705 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1701.02705v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Amy Barr
[v1] Tue, 10 Jan 2017 17:44:04 GMT (417kb,D)

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