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Beyond Earthly Skies

Scattering of Super-Earths

24 Oct 2014, 22:00 UTC
Scattering of Super-Earths
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In the core-accretion model, the formation of gas giant planets begins with the rapid coalescence of solids to form massive cores. When a massive core reaches ~10 times the mass of Earth, it accretes gas in a runaway fashion and eventually becomes a full-fledged gas giant planet. During the formation of gas giant planets around a young star, multiple massive cores can form. These massive cores can be gravitationally scattered out to large distances by other massive cores and by newly-formed gas giant planets. Typically, over 80 percent of massive cores between 1 to 15 times the mass of Earth get scattered out to the peripheries of their natal planetary systems.The scattering process hurls the massive core, also known as a scattered planet, onto an eccentric orbit which takes the planet out to a large distance from its host star. Subsequently, the planet can interact with the gaseous disk around its nascent host star. Planet-disk interactions can damp the planet’s orbital eccentricity, causing the planet to settle into a more circular orbit in the outer regions of its planetary system. However, the outcome of such a planet-disk interaction depends on the planet’s mass and both the characteristics and evolution of ...

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