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The Formation of Mini-Neptunes


Venturini, Julia; Helled, Ravit (2017). The Formation of Mini-Neptunes. The Astrophysical Journal, 848(2):95.

Abstract

Mini-Neptunes seem to be common planets. In this work we investigate the possible formation histories and predicted occurrence rates of mini-Neptunes, assuming that the planets form beyond the iceline. We consider pebble and planetesimal accretion accounting for envelope enrichment and two different opacity conditions. We find that the formation of mini-Neptunes is a relatively frequent output when envelope enrichment by volatiles is included, and that there is a "sweet spot" for mini-Neptune formation with a relatively low solid accretion rate of ~10−6 M ⊕ yr−1. This rate is typical for low/intermediate-mass protoplanetary disks and/or disks with low metallicities. With pebble accretion, envelope enrichment and high opacity favor the formation of mini-Neptunes, with more efficient formation at large semimajor axes (~30 au) and low disk viscosities. For planetesimal accretion, such planets can also form without enrichment, with the opacity being a key aspect in the growth history and favorable formation location. Finally, we show that the formation of Neptune-like planets remains a challenge for planet formation theories.

Abstract

Mini-Neptunes seem to be common planets. In this work we investigate the possible formation histories and predicted occurrence rates of mini-Neptunes, assuming that the planets form beyond the iceline. We consider pebble and planetesimal accretion accounting for envelope enrichment and two different opacity conditions. We find that the formation of mini-Neptunes is a relatively frequent output when envelope enrichment by volatiles is included, and that there is a "sweet spot" for mini-Neptune formation with a relatively low solid accretion rate of ~10−6 M ⊕ yr−1. This rate is typical for low/intermediate-mass protoplanetary disks and/or disks with low metallicities. With pebble accretion, envelope enrichment and high opacity favor the formation of mini-Neptunes, with more efficient formation at large semimajor axes (~30 au) and low disk viscosities. For planetesimal accretion, such planets can also form without enrichment, with the opacity being a key aspect in the growth history and favorable formation location. Finally, we show that the formation of Neptune-like planets remains a challenge for planet formation theories.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Language:English
Date:October 2017
Deposited On:09 Jan 2018 21:48
Last Modified:19 Feb 2018 09:49
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:1538-4357
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3847/1538-4357/aa8cd0

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