Monday, January 23, 2017

Rocky Planetesimal Formation via Fluffy Aggregates of Nanograins


Authors:

Arakawa et al

Abstract:

Several pieces of evidence suggest that silicate grains in primitive meteorites are not interstellar grains but condensates formed in the early solar system. Moreover, the size distribution of matrix grains in chondrites implies that these condensates might be formed as nanometer-sized grains. Therefore, we propose a novel scenario for rocky planetesimal formation in which nanometer-sized silicate grains are produced by evaporation and recondensation events in early solar nebula, and rocky planetesimals are formed via aggregation of these nanograins. We reveal that silicate nanograins can grow into rocky planetesimals via direct aggregation without catastrophic fragmentation and serious radial drift, and our results provide a suitable condition for protoplanet formation in our solar system.

Habitable Exoplanets Most Likely Survive Gamma Ray Bursts


Author:

Gowanlock

Abstract:

A planet having protective ozone within the collimated beam of a gamma-ray burst (GRB) may suffer ozone depletion, potentially causing a mass extinction event to existing life on a planet's surface and oceans. We model the dangers of long GRBs to planets in the Milky Way and utilize a static statistical model of the Galaxy, which matches major observable properties, such as the inside-out star formation history (SFH), metallicity evolution, and three-dimensional stellar number density distribution. The GRB formation rate is a function of both the SFH and metallicity. However, the extent to which chemical evolution reduces the GRB rate over time in the Milky Way is still an open question. Therefore, we compare the damaging effects of GRBs to biospheres in the Milky Way using two models. One model generates GRBs as a function of the inside-out SFH. The other model follows the SFH, but generates GRB progenitors as a function of metallicity, thereby favoring metal-poor host regions of the Galaxy over time. If the GRB rate only follows the SFH, the majority of the GRBs occur in the inner Galaxy. However, if GRB progenitors are constrained to low-metallicity environments, then GRBs only form in the metal-poor outskirts at recent epochs. Interestingly, over the past 1 Gyr, the surface density of stars (and their corresponding planets), which survive a GRB is still greatest in the inner galaxy in both models. The present-day danger of long GRBs to life at the solar radius (R ⊙ = 8 kpc) is low. We find that at least ~65% of stars survive a GRB over the past 1 Gyr. Furthermore, when the GRB rate was expected to have been enhanced at higher redshifts, such as z gsim 0.5, our results suggest that a large fraction of planets would have survived these lethal GRB events.

The rotation of planets hosting atmospheric tides: from Venus to habitable super-earths


Authors:

Auclair-Desrotour et al

Abstract:

The competition between the torques induced by solid and thermal tides drives the rotational dynamics of Venus-like planets and super-Earths orbiting in the habitable zone of low-mass stars. The tidal responses of the atmosphere and telluric core are related to their respective physical properties and strongly depend on the tidal frequency. The resulting torque determines the possible equilibrium states of the planet's spin. We compute here an analytic expression for the total tidal torque exerted on a Venus-like planet. This expression is used to characterize the equilibrium rotation of the body. Close to the star, the solid tide dominates. Far from it, the thermal tide drives the rotational dynamics of the planet. The transition regime corresponds to the habitable zone, where prograde and retrograde equilibrium states appear. We demonstrate the strong impact of the atmospheric properties and of the rheology of the solid part on the rotational dynamics of Venus-like planets, highlighting the key role played by dissipative mechanisms in the stability of equilibrium configurations.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Long-Lived Dust Asymmetries at Dead Zone Edges in Protoplanetary Disks


Authors:

Miranda et al

Abstract:

A number of transition disks exhibit significant azimuthal asymmetries in thermal dust emission. One possible origin for these asymmetries is dust trapping in vortices formed at the edges of dead zones. We carry out high resolution hydroydnamic simulations of this scenario, including the effects of dust feedback. We find that, although feedback weakens the vortices and slows down the process of dust accumulation, the dust distribution in the disk can nonetheless remain asymmetric for many thousands of orbits. We show that even after 104 orbits, a significant fraction of a disk lifetime, the dust is not dispersed into an axisymmetric ring, in contrast to the case of a vortex formed by a planet. This is because accumulation of mass at the dead zone edge constantly replenishes the vortex, preventing it from being fully destroyed. We produce synthetic dust emission images using our simulation results. We find that multiple small clumps of dust may be distributed azimuthally. These clumps, if not resolved from one another, appear as a single large feature. A defining characteristic of a disk with a dead zone edge is that an asymmetric feature is accompanied by a ring of dust located about twice as far from the central star.

Stacking Spectra in Protoplanetary Disks: Detecting Intensity Profiles from Hidden Molecular Lines in HD 163296

Stacking Spectra in Protoplanetary Disks: Detecting Intensity Profiles from Hidden Molecular Lines in HD 163296

Authors:

Yen et al

Abstract:

We introduce a new stacking method in Keplerian disks that (1) enhances signal-to-noise ratios (S/N) of detected molecular lines and (2) that makes visible otherwise undetectable weak lines. Our technique takes advantage of the Keplerian rotational velocity pattern. It aligns spectra according to their different centroid velocities at their different positions in a disk and stacks them. After aligning, the signals are accumulated in a narrower velocity range as compared to the original line width without alignment. Moreover, originally correlated noise becomes de-correlated. Stacked and aligned spectra, thus, have a higher S/N. We apply our method to ALMA archival data of DCN (3-2), DCO+ (3-2), N2D+ (3-2), and H2CO (3_0,3-2_0,2), (3_2,2-2_2,1), and (3_2,1-2_2,0) in the protoplanetary disk around HD 163296. As a result, (1) the S/N of the originally detected DCN (3-2), DCO+ (3-2), and H2CO (3_0,3-2_0,2) and N2D+ (3-2) lines are boosted by a factor of greater than 4-5 at their spectral peaks, implying one order of magnitude shorter integration times to reach the original S/N; and (2) the previously undetectable spectra of the H2CO (3_2,2-2_2,1) and (3_2,1-2_2,0) lines are materialized at more than 3 sigma. These dramatically enhanced S/N allow us to measure intensity distributions in all lines with high significance. The principle of our method can not only be applied to Keplerian disks but also to any systems with ordered kinematic patterns.

Slowly-growing gap-opening planets trigger weaker vortices


Authors:

Hammer et al

Abstract:

The presence of a giant planet in a low-viscosity disc can create a gap edge in the disc's radial density profile sharp enough to excite the Rossby Wave Instability. This instability may evolve into dust-trapping vortices that might explain the "banana-shaped" features in recently observed asymmetric transition discs with inner cavities. Previous hydrodynamical simulations of planet-induced vortices have neglected the timescale of hundreds to thousands of orbits to grow a massive planet to Jupiter-size. In this work, we study the effect of a giant planet's runaway growth timescale on the lifetime and characteristics of the resulting vortex. For two different planet masses (1 and 5 Jupiter masses) and two different disc viscosities (α=3×10−4 and 3×10−5), we compare the vortices induced by planets with several different growth timescales between 10 and 4000 planet orbits. In general, we find that slowly-growing planets create significantly weaker vortices with lifetimes and surface densities reduced by more than 50%. For the higher disc viscosity, the longest growth timescales in our study inhibit vortex formation altogether. Additionally, slowly-growing planets produce vortices that are up to twice as elongated, with azimuthal extents well above 180∘ in some cases. These unique, elongated vortices likely create a distinct signature in the dust observations that differentiates them from the more concentrated vortices that correspond to planets with faster growth timescales. We find that the low viscosities necessary for vortex formation likely prevent planets from growing quickly enough to trigger the instability in self-consistent models.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Explorations of Dusty Debris Disk Geometry


Authors:

Dennihy et al

Abstract:

As the sample of white dwarfs with signatures of planetary systems has grown, statistical studies have begun to suggest our picture of compact debris disk formation from disrupted planetary bodies is incomplete. Here we present the results of an effort to extend the preferred dust disk model introduced by \citet{jur03} to include elliptical geometries. We apply this model the observed distribution of fractional infrared luminosities, and explore the difference in preferred parameter spaces for a circular and highly elliptical model on a well-studied dusty white dwarf.