Status Report

Mercury as the relic of Earth and Venus’ outward migration

By SpaceRef Editor
December 3, 2021
Filed under , , ,

Matthew S. Clement, Sean N. Raymond, John E. Chambers

In spite of substantial advancements in simulating planet formation, the planet Mercury’s diminutive mass, isolated orbit, and the absence of planets with shorter orbital periods in the solar system continue to befuddle numerical accretion models. Recent studies have shown that, if massive embryos (or even giant planet cores) formed early in the innermost parts of the Sun’s gaseous disk, they would have migrated outward. This migration may have reshaped the surface density profile of terrestrial planet-forming material and generated conditions favorable to the formation of Mercury-like planets. Here, we continue to develop this model with an updated suite of numerical simulations. We favor a scenario where Earth and Venus’ progenitor nuclei form closer to the Sun and subsequently sculpt the Mercury-forming region by migrating towards their modern orbits. This rapid formation of ~0.5 Earth-mass cores at ~0.1-0.5 au is consistent with modern high-resolution simulations of planetesimal accretion. In successful realizations, Earth and Venus accrete mostly dry, Enstatite Chondrite-like material as they migrate; thus providing a simple explanation for the masses of all four terrestrial planets, inferred isotopic differences between Earth and Mars, and Mercury’s isolated orbit. Furthermore, our models predict that Venus’ composition should be similar to the Earth’s, and possibly derived from a larger fraction of dry material. Conversely, Mercury analogs in our simulations attain a range of final compositions.

Comments: 10 pages, 3 figures, 1 table, accepted for publication in ApJL

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:2112.00044 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2112.00044v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Matthew Clement 

[v1] Tue, 30 Nov 2021 19:06:44 UTC (900 KB)

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