The process of planetary growth is extremely complicated, involving a myriad of physical and chemical processes, many of which are poorly understood. The ultimate configuration that a planetary system attains depends upon the properties of the disk out of which it grew, of the star at the center of the disk and, at least in some cases, of the interstellar environment. In an effort to numerically survey the possible diversity of planetary systems, we have constructed synthetic systems of giant planets and integrated their orbits to determine the dynamical lifetimes and thus the viability of these systems. Our construction algorithm begins with 110 - 180 planetesimals located between 4 and 40 AU from a one solar mass star; most initial planetesimals have masses several tenths that of Earth. We integrate the orbits of these bodies subject to mutual gravitational perturbations and gas drag for 10(6) - 10(7) years, merging any pair of planetesimals which pass within one-tenth of a Hill Sphere of one another and adding "gas" to embryos larger than 10 Earth masses. Use of such large planetesimal radii provided sufficient damping to prevent the system from excessive dynamical heating. Subsequently, systems were evolved without gas drag, either with the enlarged radii or with more realistic radii. Systems took from a few million years to greater than ten billion years to become stable (10(9) years without mergers of ejections). Some of the systems produced with the enlarged radii closely resemble our outer Solar System. Many systems contained only Uranus-mass objects. Encounters in simulations using realistic radii resulted in ejections, typically leaving only a few planets per system, most of which were on very eccentric orbits. Some of the systems that we constructed were stable for at least a billion years despite undergoing macroscopic orbital changes on much shorter timescales.
AAS/Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting Abstracts #30
- Pub Date:
- September 1998