Journal Article

Prograde rotation of protoplanets by accretion of pebbles in a gaseous environment

Anders Johansen and Pedro Lacerda

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 404, issue 1, pages 475-485
Published in print May 2010 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2010 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
Prograde rotation of protoplanets by accretion of pebbles in a gaseous environment

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We perform hydrodynamical simulations of the accretion of pebbles and rocks on to protoplanets of a few hundred kilometres in radius, including two-way drag force coupling between particles and the protoplanetary disc gas. Particle streams interacting with the gas within the Hill sphere of the protoplanet spiral into a prograde circumplanetary disc. Material is accreted on to the protoplanet due to stirring by the turbulent surroundings. We speculate that the trend for prograde rotation among the largest asteroids is primordial and that protoplanets accreted 10–50 per cent of their mass from pebbles and rocks during the gaseous solar nebula phase. Our model also offers a possible explanation for the narrow range of spin periods observed among the largest bodies in the asteroid and trans-Neptunian belts, and predicts that 1000-km-scale Kuiper Belt objects that have not experienced giant impacts should preferentially spin in the prograde direction.

Keywords: hydrodynamics; Kuiper Belt; minor planets, asteroids; planets: rings; Solar system: formation; planetary systems: protoplanetary discs

Journal Article.  6298 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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