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The First Planets: the Critical Metallicity for Planet Formation  [PDF]
Jarrett L. Johnson,Hui Li
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/751/2/81
Abstract: A rapidly growing body of observational results suggests that planet formation takes place preferentially at high metallicity. In the core accretion model of planet formation this is expected because heavy elements are needed to form the dust grains which settle into the midplane of the protoplanetary disk and coagulate to form the planetesimals from which planetary cores are assembled. As well, there is observational evidence that the lifetimes of circumstellar disks are shorter at lower metallicities, likely due to greater susceptibility to photoevaporation. Here we estimate the minimum metallicity for planet formation, by comparing the timescale for dust grain growth and settling to that for disk photoevaporation. For a wide range of circumstellar disk models and dust grain properties, we find that the critical metallicity above which planets can form is a function of the distance r at which the planet orbits its host star. With the iron abundance relative to that of the Sun [Fe/H] as a proxy for the metallicity, we estimate a lower limit for the critical abundance for planet formation of [Fe/H]_crit ~ -1.5 + log(r/1 AU), where an astronomical unit (AU) is the distance between the Earth and the Sun. This prediction is in agreement with the available observational data, and carries implications for the properties of the first planets and for the emergence of life in the early Universe. In particular, it implies that the first Earth-like planets likely formed from circumstellar disks with metallicities Z > 0.1 Z_Sun. If planets are found to orbit stars with metallicities below the critical metallicity, this may be a strong challenge to the core accretion model.
Planet Traps and First Planets: the Critical Metallicity for Gas Giant Formation  [PDF]
Yasuhiro Hasegawa,Hiroyuki Hirashita
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/788/1/62
Abstract: The ubiquity of planets poses an interesting question: when first planets are formed in galaxies. We investigate this problem by adopting a theoretical model developed for understanding the statistical properties of exoplanets. Our model is constructed as the combination of planet traps with the standard core accretion scenario in which the efficiency of forming planetary cores directly relates to the dust density in disks or the metallicity ([Fe/H]). We statistically compute planet formation frequencies (PFFs) as well as the orbital radius ($$) within which gas accretion becomes efficient enough to form Jovian planets. The three characteristic exoplanetary populations are considered: hot Jupiters, exo-Jupiters densely populated around 1 AU, and low-mass planets such as super-Earths. We explore the behavior of the PFFs as well as $$ for the three different populations as a function of metallicity ($-2 \leq$[Fe/H]$\leq -0.6$). We show that the total PFFs increase steadily with metallicity, which is the direct outcome of the core accretion picture. For the entire range of the metallicity considered here, the population of the low-mass planets dominates over the Jovian planets. The Jovian planets contribute to the PFFs above [Fe/H]-1. We find that the hot Jupiters form at lower metallcities than the exo-Jupiters. This arises from the radially inward transport of planetary cores by their host traps, which is more effective for lower metallicity disks due to the slower growth of the cores. The PFFs for the exo-Jupiters exceed those for the hot Jupiters around [Fe/H]-0.7. Finally, we show that the critical metallicity for forming Jovian planets is [Fe/H]-1.2, which is evaluated by comparing the values of $$ between the hot Jupiters and the low-mass planets. The comparison intrinsically links to the different gas accretion efficiency between them.
The Mass-Metallicity Relation for Giant Planets  [PDF]
Daniel P. Thorngren,Jonathan J. Fortney,Eric D. Lopez
Physics , 2015,
Abstract: Exoplanet discoveries of recent years have provided a great deal of new data for studying the bulk compositions of giant planets. Here we identify 38 transiting giant planets ($20 M_\oplus < M < 20 M_{\mathrm{J}}$) whose stellar insolation is low enough ($F_* < 2\times10^8\; \text{erg}\; \text{s}^{-1}\; \text{cm}^{-2}$, or roughly $T_\text{eff} < 1000$) that they are not affected by the hot Jupiter radius inflation mechanism(s). We compute a set of new thermal and structural evolution models and use these models in comparison with properties of the 38 transiting planets (mass, radius, age) to determine their heavy element masses. A clear correlation emerges between the planetary heavy element mass $M_z$ and the total planet mass, approximately of the form $M_z \propto \sqrt{M}$. This finding is consistent with the core accretion model of planet formation. We also study how stellar metallicity [Fe/H] affects planetary metal-enrichment and find a weaker correlation than has been previously reported from studies with smaller sample sizes. Our results suggest that planets with large heavy element masses are more common around stars with a high iron abundance, but are not found there exclusively. We confirm a strong relationship between the planetary metal-enrichment relative to the parent star $Z_{\rm planet}/Z_{\rm star}$ and the planetary mass, but see no relation in $Z_{\rm planet}/Z_{\rm star}$ with planet orbital properties or stellar mass. Suggestively, circumbinary planets are more enriched in heavy elements than similar mass single-star planets, but with only four such planets the effect is not yet significant. The large heavy element masses of many planets ($>50 M_\oplus$) suggest significant amounts of heavy elements in H/He envelopes, rather than cores, such that metal-enriched giant planet atmospheres should be the rule.
A Metallicity Recipe for Rocky Planets  [PDF]
Rebekah I. Dawson,Eugene Chiang,Eve J. Lee
Physics , 2015, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stv1639
Abstract: Planets with sizes between those of Earth and Neptune divide into two populations: purely rocky bodies whose atmospheres contribute negligibly to their sizes, and larger gas-enveloped planets possessing voluminous and optically thick atmospheres. We show that whether a planet forms rocky or gas-enveloped depends on the solid surface density of its parent disk. Assembly times for rocky cores are sensitive to disk solid surface density. Lower surface densities spawn smaller planetary embryos; to assemble a core of given mass, smaller embryos require more mergers between bodies farther apart and therefore exponentially longer formation times. Gas accretion simulations yield a rule of thumb that a rocky core must be at least 2$M_\oplus$ before it can acquire a volumetrically significant atmosphere from its parent nebula. In disks of low solid surface density, cores of such mass appear only after the gas disk has dissipated, and so remain purely rocky. Higher surface density disks breed massive cores more quickly, within the gas disk lifetime, and so produce gas-enveloped planets. We test model predictions against observations, using planet radius as an observational proxy for gas-to-rock content and host star metallicity as a proxy for disk solid surface density. Theory can explain the observation that metal-rich stars host predominantly gas-enveloped planets.
A Continuum of Planet Formation Between 1 and 4 Earth Radii  [PDF]
Kevin C. Schlaufman
Physics , 2015, DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/799/2/L26
Abstract: It has long been known that stars with high metallicity are more likely to host giant planets than stars with low metallicity. Yet the connection between host star metallicity and the properties of small planets is only just beginning to be investigated. It has recently been argued that the metallicity distribution of stars with exoplanet candidates identified by Kepler provides evidence for three distinct clusters of exoplanets, distinguished by planet radius boundaries at 1.7 R_Earth and 3.9 R_Earth. This would suggest that there are three distinct planet formation pathways for super-Earths, mini-Neptunes, and giant planets. However, as I show through three independent analyses, there is actually no evidence for the proposed radius boundary at 1.7 R_Earth. On the other hand, a more rigorous calculation demonstrates that a single, continuous relationship between planet radius and metallicity is a better fit to the data. The planet radius and metallicity data therefore provides no evidence for distinct categories of small planets. This suggests that the planet formation process in a typical protoplanetary disk produces a continuum of planet sizes between 1 R_Earth and 4 R_Earth. As a result, the currently available planet radius and metallicity data for solar-metallicity F and G stars give no reason to expect that the amount of solid material in a protoplanetary disk determines whether super-Earths or mini-Neptunes are formed.
The metallicity signature of evolved stars with planets  [PDF]
J. Maldonado,E. Villaver,C. Eiroa
Physics , 2013, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201321082
Abstract: We determine in a homogeneous way the metallicity and individual abundances of a large sample of evolved stars, with and without known planetary companions. Our methodology is based on the analysis of high-resolution echelle spectra. The metallicity distributions show that giant stars hosting planets are not preferentially metal-rich having similar abundance patterns to giant stars without known planetary companions. We have found, however, a very strong relation between the metallicity distribution and the stellar mass within this sample. We show that the less massive giant stars with planets (M < 1.5 Msun) are not metal rich, but, the metallicity of the sample of massive (M > 1.5 Msun), young (age < 2 Gyr) giant stars with planets is higher than that of a similar sample of stars without planets. Regarding other chemical elements, giant stars with and without planets in the mass domain M < 1.5 Msun show similar abundance patterns. However, planet and non-planet hosts with masses M > 1.5 Msun show differences in the abundances of some elements, specially Na, Co, and Ni. In addition, we find the sample of subgiant stars with planets to be metal rich showing similar metallicities to main-sequence planet hosts. The fact that giant planet hosts in the mass domain M < 1.5 Msun do not show metal-enrichment is difficult to explain. Given that these stars have similar stellar parameters to subgiants and main-sequence planet hosts, the lack of the metal-rich signature in low-mass giants could be explained if originated from a pollution scenario in the main sequence that gets erased as the star become fully convective. However, there is no physical reason why it should play a role for giants with masses M < 1.5 Msun but is not observed for giants with M > 1.5 Msun.
Positive metallicity correlation for coreless giant planets  [PDF]
Sergei Nayakshin
Physics , 2014, DOI: 10.1093/mnrasl/slu191
Abstract: Frequency of detected giant planets is observed to increase rapidly with metallicity of the host star. This is usually interpreted as evidence in support of the Core Accretion (CA) theory, which assembles giant planets as a result of formation of a massive solid core. A strong positive planet-metallicity correlation for giant planets formed in the framework of Gravitational disc Instability (GI) model is found here. The key novelty of this work is "pebble accretion" onto GI fragments which has been recently demonstrated to accelerate contraction of GI fragments. Driven closer to the star by the inward migration, only the fragments that accrete metals rapidly enough collapse and survive the otherwise imminent tidal disruption. The survival fraction of simulated planets correlates strongly with the metallicity of the host star, as observed.
Metallicity, planet formation, and disc lifetimes  [PDF]
Barbara Ercolano,Cathie Clarke
Physics , 2009, DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.16094.x
Abstract: The formation of planets within a disc must operate within the time frame of disc dispersal, it is thus crucial to establish what is the dominant process that disperses the gaseous component of discs around young stars. Planet formation itself as well as photoevaporation by energetic radiation from the central young stellar object have been proposed as plausible dispersal mechanisms. [abridged]. In this paper we use the different metallicity dependance of X-ray photoevaporation and planet formation to discriminate between these two processes. We study the effects of metallicity, Z, on the dispersal timescale, t_phot, in the context of a photoevaporation model, by means of detailed thermal calculations of a disc in hydrostatic equilibrium irradiated by EUV and X-ray radiation from the central source. Our models show t_phot \propto Z^0.52 for a pure photoevaporation model. By means of analytical estimates we derive instead a much stronger negative power dependance on metallicity of the disc lifetime for a dispersal model based on planet formation. A census of disc fractions in lower metallicity regions should therefore be able to distinguish between the two models. A recent study by Yasui et al. in low metallicity clusters of the extreme outer Galaxy ([O/H] ~- 0.7dex and dust to gas ratio of ~0.001) provides preliminary observational evidence for shorter disc lifetimes at lower metallicities, in agreement with the predictions of a pure photoevaporation model. [abridged] We finally develop an analytical framework to study the effects of metallicity dependent photoevaporation on the formation of gas giants in the core accretion scenario. We show that accounting for this effect strengthens the conclusion that planet formation is favoured at higher metallicity. [abridged]
Planet Consumption and Stellar Metallicity Enhancements  [PDF]
Eric Sandquist,Ronald E. Taam,D. N. C. Lin,Andreas Burkert
Physics , 1998, DOI: 10.1086/311633
Abstract: The evolution of a giant planet within the stellar envelope of a main-sequence star is investigated as a possible mechanism for enhancing the stellar metallicities of the parent stars of extrasolar planetary systems. Three-dimensional hydrodynamical simulations of a planet subject to impacting stellar matter indicate that the envelope of a Jupiter-like giant planet can be completely stripped in the outer stellar convection zone of a solar-mass star. In contrast, Jupiter-like and less massive Saturn-like giant planets are able to survive through the base of the convection zone of a 1.22 solar-mass star. Although strongly dependent on details of planetary interior models, partial or total dissolution of giant planets can result in significant enhancements in the metallicity of host stars with masses between about 1.0 and 1.3 solar masses. The implications of these results with regard to planetary orbital migration are briefly discussed.
Extrasolar planet population synthesis IV. Correlations with disk metallicity, mass and lifetime  [PDF]
C. Mordasini,Y. Alibert,W. Benz,H. Klahr,T. Henning
Physics , 2012, DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361/201117350
Abstract: Context. This is the fourth paper in a series showing the results of planet population synthesis calculations. Aims. Our goal in this paper is to systematically study the effects of important disk properties, namely disk metallicity, mass and lifetime on fundamental planetary properties. Methods. For a large number of protoplanetary disks we calculate a population of planets with our core accretion formation model including planet migration and disk evolution. Results. We find a large number of correlations: Regarding the planetary initial mass function, metallicity, disk mass and disk lifetime have different roles: For high [Fe/H], giant planets are more frequent. For high disk masses, giant planets are more massive. For long disk lifetimes, giant planets are both more frequent and massive. At low metallicities, very massive giant planets cannot form, but otherwise giant planet mass and metallicity are uncorrelated. In contrast, planet masses and disk gas masses are correlated. The sweet spot for giant planet formation is at 5 AU. In- and outside this distance, higher planetesimals surface densities are necessary. Low metallicities can be compensated by high disk masses, and vice versa, but not ad infinitum. At low metallicities, giant planets only form outside the ice line, while at high metallicities, giant planet formation occurs throughout the disk. The extent of migration increases with disk mass and lifetime and usually decreases with metallicity. No clear correlation of metallicity and the semimajor axis of giant planets exists because in low [Fe/H] disks, planets start further out, but migrate more, whereas for high [Fe/H] they start further in, but migrate less. Close-in low mass planets have a lower mean metallicity than Hot Jupiters. Conclusions. The properties of protoplanetary disks are decisive for the properties of planets, and leave many imprints.
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