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THE ROLE OF GIANT PLANETS IN TERRESTRIAL PLANET FORMATION Harold F. Levison1
 

Summary: THE ROLE OF GIANT PLANETS IN TERRESTRIAL PLANET FORMATION
Harold F. Levison1
and Craig Agnor2
Department of Space Studies, Southwest Research Institute, Suite 400, 1050 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO 80302
Received 2002 May 31; accepted 2003 February 5
ABSTRACT
We present the results of simulations of the late stages of terrestrial planet formation under the
gravitational influence of six different outer giant planetary systems with a wide range of dynamical charac-
teristics. Our goal is to examine the role that the giant planets play in determining the number, mass, and
orbital characteristics of the resulting terrestrial planets and their general potential for habitability. Each of
the giant-planet systems affects the embryos in its own unique way. However, we find that the most profound
effects are secular in nature. We also discovered that dynamical excitation of the embryos by the giant planets
in one region can be transferred into another on short timescales via what we call secular conduction. Despite
large differences in the behaviors of our systems, we have found general trends that seem to apply. The
number, mass, and location of the terrestrial planets are directly related to the amount of dynamical excita-
tion experienced by the planetary embryos near 1 AU. In general, if the embryos' eccentricities are large, each
is crossing the orbits of a larger fraction of its cohorts, which leads to a lesser number of more massive
planets. In addition, embryos tend to collide with objects near their periastron. Thus, in systems where the
embryos' eccentricities are large, planets tend to form close to the central star.
Key words: planets and satellites: formation -- solar system: formation

  

Source: Agnor, Craig B. - Astronomy Unit, School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary, University of London

 

Collections: Physics