Giant planets are tens to thousands of times as massive as the Earth and many times as large. Most of their volumes are occupied by hydrogen and helium, the primary constituents of the protostellar disks from which they formed. Significantly, the solar system giants are also highly enriched in heavier elements relative to the Sun, indicating that solid material participated in their assembly. Giant planets account for most of the mass of our planetary system and of those extrasolar planetary systems in which they are present. Therefore, giant planets are primary actors in determining the orbital architectures of planetary systems and, possibly, in affecting the composition of terrestrial planets. This chapter describes the principal route that, according to current knowledge, can lead to the formation of giant planets, the core nucleated accretion model, and an alternative route, the disk instability model, which may lead to the formation of planetary-mass objects on wide orbits.
Handbook of Exoplanets
- Pub Date:
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- Invited review, accepted for publication in the "Handbook of Exoplanets", eds. H.J. Deeg and J.A. Belmonte, Springer (2018). 28 pages, 8 figures