Status Report

Reduced gas accretion on super-Earths and ice giants

By SpaceRef Editor
August 3, 2017
Filed under , , ,

Michiel Lambrechts, Elena Lega
(Submitted on 2 Aug 2017)

A large fraction of giant planets have gaseous envelopes that are limited to about 10 % of their total mass budget. Such planets are present in the Solar System (Uranus, Neptune) and are frequently observed in short periods around other stars (the so-called Super-Earths). In contrast to these observations, theoretical calculations based on the evolution of hydrostatic envelopes argue that such low mass envelopes cannot be maintained around cores exceeding five Earth masses. Instead, under nominal disc conditions, these planets would acquire massive envelopes through runaway gas accretion within the lifetime of the protoplanetary disc. In this work, we show that planetary envelopes are not in hydrostatic balance, which slows down envelope growth. A series of 3-dimensional, global, radiative hydrodynamical simulations reveal a steady state gas flow, which enters through the poles and exits in the disc midplane. Gas is pushed through the outer envelope in about 10 orbital timescales. In regions of the disc that are not significantly dust-depleted, envelope accretion onto cores of about five Earth masses can get stalled as the gas flow enters the deep interior. Accreted solids sublimate deep in the convective interior, but small opacity-providing grains are trapped in the flow and do not settle, which further prevents rapid envelope accretion. The transition to runaway gas accretion can however be reached when cores grow larger than typical Super-Earths, beyond 15 Earth masses, and preferably when disc opacities are below kappa=1 cm^2/g. These findings offer an explanation for the typical low-mass envelopes around the cores of Super-Earths.

Comments:    Accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1708.00767 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1708.00767v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Michiel Lambrechts 
[v1] Wed, 2 Aug 2017 14:37:38 GMT (4068kb,D)

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