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Extrasolar Carbon Planets

By SpaceRef Editor
April 21, 2005
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Extrasolar Carbon Planets

Astrophysics, abstract

From: Sara Seager [view email]
Date: Fri, 8 Apr 2005 20:12:45 GMT (36kb)

Extrasolar Carbon Planets

Marc J. Kuchner (Princeton),
S. Seager (Carnegie/DTM)

Comments: 17 pages, 2 figures, submitted to ApJL

We suggest that some extrasolar planets <~ 60 Earth masses will form
substantially from silicon carbide and other carbon compounds. Pulsar planets
and low-mass white dwarf planets are especially good candidate members of this
new class of planets, but these objects could also conceivably form around
stars like the Sun. This planet-formation pathway requires only a factor of two
local enhancement of the protoplanetary disk’s C/O ratio above solar, a
condition that pileups of carbonaceous grains may create in ordinary
protoplanetary disks. Hot, Neptune-mass carbon planets should show a
significant paucity of water vapor in their spectra compared to hot planets
with solar abundances. Cooler, less massive carbon planets may show
hydrocarbon-rich spectra and tar-covered surfaces. The high sublimation
temperatures of diamond, SiC, and other carbon compounds could protect these
planets from carbon depletion at high temperatures.

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