Protostellar cloud fragmentation and inward migration by disk capture as the origin of massive exoplanets

Andreu Font-Ribera, Jordi Miralda Escudé, Ignasi Ribas

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6 Citations (Scopus)


A new model for the formation of Jovian planets is proposed. We consider planets forming at large distances from a protostar (≳100 AU) through direct fragmentation of a gas cloud, by the same formation mechanism as wide stellar and brown dwarf binaries. We model the gravitational evolution of a system of these distant planets and a second population formed in a disk closer to the star. We compute the typical closest approach of these planets to the star (i.e., smallest pericenter) over the course of their evolution. When the planets reach a pericenter within a gaseous disk surrounding the star, dynamical friction from this disk slows down the planet at each plunge, causing its orbit to be gradually circularized and made coplanar with the disk. After the disk dissipates, a large fraction of these planets may be left at orbits small enough to be detected in present radial velocity surveys. A brief analytic derivation of the rate of orbital energy dissipation during these disk crossings is presented. Observational tests of this model are discussed. © 2009 The American Astronomical Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-191
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Methods: N-body simulations
  • Planetary systems
  • Planetary systems: formation


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