UCSC-SOE-08-10: Assembling the Building Blocks of Giant Planets around Intermediate Mass Stars

K. A. Kretke, D. N. C. Lin, P. Garaud, N. J. Turner
06/10/2008 09:00 AM
Applied Mathematics & Statistics
We examine a physical process that leads to the efficient formation of gas giant planets around intermediate mass stars. In the gaseous protoplanetary disks surrounding rapidly-accreting intermediate-mass stars we show that the midplane temperature (heated primarily by turbulent dissipation) can reach &1000 K out to 1 AU. Thermal ionization of this hot gas couples the disk to the magnetic field, allowing the magneto-rotational instability (MRI) to generate turbulence and transport angular momentum. Further from the central star the ionization fraction decreases, decoupling the disk from the magnetic field and reducing the efficiency of angular momentum transport. As the disk evolves towards a quasi-steady state, a local maximum in the surface density and in the midplane pressure both develop at the inner edge of the MRI-dead zone, trapping inwardly migrating solid bodies. Small particles accumulate and coagulate into planetesimals which grow rapidly until they reach isolation mass. In contrast to the situation around solar type stars, we show that the isolation mass for cores at this critical radius around the more massive stars is large enough to promote the accretion of significant amounts of gas prior to disk depletion. Through this process, we anticipate a prolific production of gas giants at ~ 1 AU around intermediate-mass stars.