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In Situ Formation of Icy Moons of Uranus and Neptune


Szulágyi, Judit; Cilibrasi, Marco; Mayer, Lucio (2018). In Situ Formation of Icy Moons of Uranus and Neptune. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 868(1):L13.

Abstract

Satellites of giant planets have been thought to form in gaseous circumplanetary disks (CPDs) during the late planet-formation phase, but it was unknown whether or not smaller-mass planets such as the ice giants could form such disks, and thus moons, there. We combined radiative hydrodynamical simulations with satellite population synthesis to investigate the question in the case of Uranus and Neptune. For both ice giants we found that a gaseous CPD is created at the end of their formation. The population synthesis confirmed that Uranian-like, icy, prograde satellite system could form in these CPDs within a couple of 105 yr. This means that Neptune could have a Uranian-like moon system originally that was wiped away by the capture of Triton. Furthermore, the current moons of Uranus can be reproduced by our model without the need for planet–planet impact to create a debris disk for the moons to grow. These results highlight that even ice giants—among the most common mass category of exoplanets—can also form satellites, opening a way to a potentially much larger population of exomoons than previously thought.

Abstract

Satellites of giant planets have been thought to form in gaseous circumplanetary disks (CPDs) during the late planet-formation phase, but it was unknown whether or not smaller-mass planets such as the ice giants could form such disks, and thus moons, there. We combined radiative hydrodynamical simulations with satellite population synthesis to investigate the question in the case of Uranus and Neptune. For both ice giants we found that a gaseous CPD is created at the end of their formation. The population synthesis confirmed that Uranian-like, icy, prograde satellite system could form in these CPDs within a couple of 105 yr. This means that Neptune could have a Uranian-like moon system originally that was wiped away by the capture of Triton. Furthermore, the current moons of Uranus can be reproduced by our model without the need for planet–planet impact to create a debris disk for the moons to grow. These results highlight that even ice giants—among the most common mass category of exoplanets—can also form satellites, opening a way to a potentially much larger population of exomoons than previously thought.

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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
Uncontrolled Keywords:Space and Planetary Science, Astronomy and Astrophysics
Language:English
Date:19 November 2018
Deposited On:06 Mar 2019 13:58
Last Modified:17 Sep 2019 20:09
Publisher:IOP Publishing
ISSN:2041-8205
OA Status:Green
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.3847/2041-8213/aaeed6

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