Evidence of an Upper Bound on the Masses of Planets and Its Implications for Giant Planet Formation

Tuesday 3 July, 15:20

Giant planet occurrence is a steeply increasing function of FGK dwarf host star metallicity, and this is interpreted as support for the core-accretion model of giant planet formation.  On the other hand, the occurrence of low-mass stellar companions to FGK dwarf stars does not appear to depend on stellar metallicity.  The mass at which objects no longer prefer metal-rich FGK dwarf host stars can therefore be used to infer the maximum mass of objects that form like planets through core accretion.  I'll show that objects more massive than about 10 M_Jup do not orbit metal-rich host stars and that this transition is coincident with a minimum in the occurrence rate of such objects.  These facts suggest that the maximum mass of a celestial body formed through core accretion like a planet is less than 10 M_Jup.  To prevent newly formed giant planets from growing larger than 10 M_Jup, protoplanetary disks must be significantly less viscous or of lower mass than typically assumed during the runaway gas accretion stage of giant planet formation.  Either effect would act to slow the Type I/II migration of planetary embryos/giant planets and promote their survival.  These inferences are insensitive to the host star mass, planet formation location, or characteristic disk dissipation time.

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