Journal Article

Planetesimals to protoplanets – II. Effect of debris on terrestrial planet formation

Z. M. Leinhardt, D. C. Richardson, G. Lufkin and J. Haseltine

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 396, issue 2, pages 718-728
Published in print June 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Planetesimals to protoplanets – II. Effect of debris on terrestrial planet formation

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In this paper, we extend our numerical method for simulating terrestrial planet formation to include dynamical friction from the unresolved debris component. In the previous work, we implemented a rubble pile planetesimal collision model into direct N-body simulations of terrestrial planet formation. The new collision model treated both accretion and erosion of planetesimals but did not include dynamical friction from debris particles smaller than the resolution limit for the simulation. By extending our numerical model to include dynamical friction from the unresolved debris, we can simulate the dynamical effect of debris produced during collisions and can also investigate the effect of initial debris mass on terrestrial planet formation. We find that significant initial debris mass, 10 per cent or more of the total disc mass, changes the mode of planetesimal growth. Specifically, planetesimals in this situation do not go through a runaway growth phase. Instead, they grow concurrently, similar to oligarchic growth. The dynamical friction from the unresolved debris damps the eccentricities of the planetesimals, reducing the mean impact speeds and causing all collisions to result in merging with no mass loss. As a result, there is no debris production. The mass in debris slowly decreases with time. In addition to including the dynamical friction from the unresolved debris, we have implemented particle tracking as a proxy for monitoring compositional mixing. Although there is much less mixing due to collisions and gravitational scattering when dynamical friction of the background debris is included, there is significant inward migration of the largest protoplanets in the most extreme initial conditions (for which the initial mass in unresolved debris is at least equal to the mass in resolved planetesimals).

Keywords: methods: N-body simulations; methods: numerical; Solar system: formation; planetary systems: formation

Journal Article.  7695 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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