Wednesday, June 26, 2013

1306.5746 (Christoph Mordasini)

Luminosity of young Jupiters revisited. Massive cores make hot planets    [PDF]

Christoph Mordasini
The intrinsic luminosity of young Jupiters is of high interest for planet formation theory. It is an observable quantity that is determined by important physical mechanisms during formation, namely the accretion shock structure, and even more fundamentally, the basic formation mechanism (core accretion or gravitational instability). We study the impact of the core mass on the post-formation entropy and luminosity of young giant planets forming via core accretion with a supercritical shock (cold accretion). For this, we conduct self-consistently coupled formation and evolution calculations of giant planets with masses between 1 and 12 Jovian masses and core masses between 20 and 120 Earth masses. We find that the post-formation luminosity of massive giant planets is very sensitive to the core mass. An increase of the core mass by a factor 6 results in an increase of the post-formation luminosity of a 10 Jovian mass planet by a factor 120. Due to this dependency, there is no single well defined post-formation luminosity for core accretion, but a wide range. For massive cores (~100 Earth masses), the post-formation luminosities of core accretion planets become so high that they approach those in the hot start scenario that is often associated with gravitational instability. For the mechanism to work, it is necessary that the solids are accreted before or during gas runaway accretion, and that they sink deep into the planet. We make no claims whether or not such massive cores can actually form in giant planets. But if yes, it becomes difficult to rule out core accretion as formation mechanism based solely on luminosity for directly imaged planets that are more luminous than predicted for low core masses. Instead of invoking gravitational instability as the consequently necessary formation mode, the high luminosity could also be caused simply by a more massive core.
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