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More metals, more planets?

14 Jan 2020, 20:19 UTC
More metals, more planets?
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Title: Do Metal-rich Stars Make Metal-rich Planets? New Insights on Giant Planet Formation from Host Star AbundancesAuthors: Johanna K. Teske, Daniel Thorngren, Jonathan J. Fortney, Natalie Hinkel, John M. BrewerFirst Author’s Institution: Observatories of the Carnegie Institution for Science, Pasadena, CAStatus: Accepted for Publication in the Astronomical Journal, preprint on arxivA complete, start-to-finish picture of planet formation process continues to elude astronomers. We know that dust grains around young stars collide to form pebble (roughly centimeter) sized bodies. This stage has been observationally confirmed by examining the infrared and radio emission from protoplanetary disks. Beyond this stage, however, the details get less clear. Simple theoretical models predict that bodies larger than pebbles should quickly spiral in and fall onto the host star, due to the aerodynamic drag from the surrounding gas. Even if growing planet-building material can somehow avert this fate, laboratory experiments suggest that it is extremely difficult for any larger bodies to grow further by sticking together. To further complicate matters, bodies larger than pebbles do not emit or reflect very much light, making later stages of planet formation nearly impossible to directly observe.

Figure 1: An artist’s rendition of planets forming within a protoplanetary disk. The central ...

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