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May 21, 2013: Puzzles in Giant Planet Formation

Posted on May 17, 2013 in Seminars

Katherine Kretke (Southwest Research Institute)

Despite the many hundreds of known “giant” exoplanets, theoretical models still struggle to form them.  Under the core-accretion, gas-capture model of giant planet formation, it is still challenging to explain how the required ~10 Earth mass rocky/icy cores can form within the lifetime of their host gaseous circumstellar disks.  In this talk I will present two different new lines of research to address this timescale dilemma.  I will explore whether or not a newly identified, extremely fast aerodynamic aided accretion of “pebbles” may present a mechanism to form giant planet cores extremely rapidly. Then I will discuss how volatile loss from ice-rich cores and the subsequent enrichment of the atmosphere can alter the efficiency of core growth and potentially aid the planet formation process.