Metal-rich giant planets from disk instability

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Metal-rich giant planets from disk instability

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 7th April 2011, 2:56 am

The Heavy Element Composition of Disk Instability Planets Can Range From Sub- to Super-Nebular
http://arxiv.org/abs/1104.0939

Transit surveys combined with Doppler data have revealed a class of gas giant planets that are massive and highly enriched in heavy elements (e.g., HD149026b, GJ436b, and HAT-P-20b). It is tempting to consider these planets as validation of core accretion plus gas capture because it is often assumed that disk instability planets should be of nebular composition. We show in this paper, to the contrary, that gas giants that form by disk instability can have a variety of heavy element compositions, ranging from sub- to super-nebular values. High levels of enrichment can be achieved through one or multiple mechanisms, including enrichment at birth, planetesimal capture, and differentiation plus tidal stripping. As a result, the metallicity of an individual gas giant cannot be used to discriminate between gas giant formation modes.

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