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Evolution of Debris Disks

Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics

Annual Reviews

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      Rapid planetesimal formation in turbulent circumstellar discs

      The initial stages of planet formation in circumstellar gas discs proceed via dust grains that collide and build up larger and larger bodies (Safronov 1969). How this process continues from metre-sized boulders to kilometre-scale planetesimals is a major unsolved problem (Dominik et al. 2007): boulders stick together poorly (Benz 2000), and spiral into the protostar in a few hundred orbits due to a head wind from the slower rotating gas (Weidenschilling 1977). Gravitational collapse of the solid component has been suggested to overcome this barrier (Safronov 1969, Goldreich & Ward 1973, Youdin & Shu 2002). Even low levels of turbulence, however, inhibit sedimentation of solids to a sufficiently dense midplane layer (Weidenschilling & Cuzzi 1993, Dominik et al. 2007), but turbulence must be present to explain observed gas accretion in protostellar discs (Hartmann 1998). Here we report the discovery of efficient gravitational collapse of boulders in locally overdense regions in the midplane. The boulders concentrate initially in transient high pressures in the turbulent gas (Johansen, Klahr, & Henning 2006), and these concentrations are augmented a further order of magnitude by a streaming instability (Youdin & Goodman 2005, Johansen, Henning, & Klahr 2006, Johansen & Youdin 2007) driven by the relative flow of gas and solids. We find that gravitationally bound clusters form with masses comparable to dwarf planets and containing a distribution of boulder sizes. Gravitational collapse happens much faster than radial drift, offering a possible path to planetesimal formation in accreting circumstellar discs.
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        Origin of the cataclysmic Late Heavy Bombardment period of the terrestrial planets.

        The petrology record on the Moon suggests that a cataclysmic spike in the cratering rate occurred approximately 700 million years after the planets formed; this event is known as the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB). Planetary formation theories cannot naturally account for an intense period of planetesimal bombardment so late in Solar System history. Several models have been proposed to explain a late impact spike, but none of them has been set within a self-consistent framework of Solar System evolution. Here we propose that the LHB was triggered by the rapid migration of the giant planets, which occurred after a long quiescent period. During this burst of migration, the planetesimal disk outside the orbits of the planets was destabilized, causing a sudden massive delivery of planetesimals to the inner Solar System. The asteroid belt was also strongly perturbed, with these objects supplying a significant fraction of the LHB impactors in accordance with recent geochemical evidence. Our model not only naturally explains the LHB, but also reproduces the observational constraints of the outer Solar System.
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          Origin of the orbital architecture of the giant planets of the Solar System.

          Planetary formation theories suggest that the giant planets formed on circular and coplanar orbits. The eccentricities of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, however, reach values of 6 per cent, 9 per cent and 8 per cent, respectively. In addition, the inclinations of the orbital planes of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune take maximum values of approximately 2 degrees with respect to the mean orbital plane of Jupiter. Existing models for the excitation of the eccentricity of extrasolar giant planets have not been successfully applied to the Solar System. Here we show that a planetary system with initial quasi-circular, coplanar orbits would have evolved to the current orbital configuration, provided that Jupiter and Saturn crossed their 1:2 orbital resonance. We show that this resonance crossing could have occurred as the giant planets migrated owing to their interaction with a disk of planetesimals. Our model reproduces all the important characteristics of the giant planets' orbits, namely their final semimajor axes, eccentricities and mutual inclinations.
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            Author and article information

            Journal
            Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
            Annu. Rev. Astron. Astrophys.
            Annual Reviews
            0066-4146
            1545-4282
            September 2008
            September 2008
            : 46
            : 1
            : 339-383
            10.1146/annurev.astro.45.051806.110525
            © 2008

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