Ice condensation as a planet formation mechanism
Lund Observatory, Department of Astronomy and Theoretical Physics, Lund University, Box 43, 22100 Lund, Sweden
Received: 10 October 2012
Accepted: 21 February 2013
We show that condensation is an efficient particle growth mechanism that leads to growth beyond decimetre-sized pebbles close to an ice line in protoplanetary discs. As coagulation of dust particles is frustrated by bouncing and fragmentation, condensation could be a complementary, or even dominant, growth mode in the early stages of planet formation. Ice particles diffuse across the ice line and sublimate, and vapour diffusing inwards across the ice line recondenses onto already existing particles, causing them to grow. We develop a numerical model of the dynamical behaviour of ice particles close to the water ice line, approximately 3 AU from the host star. Particles move with the turbulent gas, modelled as a random walk. They also sediment towards the midplane and drift radially towards the central star. Condensation and sublimation are calculated using a Monte Carlo approach. Our results indicate that, with a turbulent α-value of 0.01, growth from millimetre to at least decimetre-sized pebbles is possible on a time scale of 1000 years. We find that particle growth is dominated by ice and vapour transport across the radial ice line, with negligible growth caused by transport across the atmospheric ice line. Ice particles mix outwards by turbulent diffusion, leading to net growth across the entire cold region. The resulting particles are large enough to be sensitive to concentration by streaming instabilities, pressure bumps and vortices, which can cause further growth into planetesimals. In our model, particles are considered to be homogeneous ice particles. Considering the more realistic composition of ice condensed onto rocky ice nuclei might affect the growth time scales, by release of refractory ice nuclei after sublimation. We also ignore sticking and fragmentation in particle collisions. These effects will be the subject of future investigations.
Key words: accretion, accretion disks / turbulence / methods: numerical / planets and satellites: formation / protoplanetary disks
© ESO, 2013