May 21, 2013: Puzzles in Giant Planet Formation

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.

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