How Turbulence Can Set the Radial Distribution of Gas Giants Formed by Pebble Accretion
I discuss how turbulence impacts the orbital separation at which the cores of gas giants can form via pebble accretion. While pebble accretion is extremely rapid for massive planets, I demonstrate that pebble accretion is inhibited at protoplanet masses, an effect which is strongly enhanced in a turbulent disk. Using these considerations I derive a “minimum” mass, past which pebble accretion proceeds on timescales less than the disk lifetime. By considering core formation where early growth to this minimum mass proceeds by gravitational focusing of planetesimals, I demonstrate that the the semi-major axes where gas giants can form are more restricted as the strength of the nebular turbulence increases — e.g. formation can only occur at distances < 30 AU for α > 10-2. I also examine the implications of turbulence on the mass gas giants can reach before opening a substantial gap and halting growth. I find that while weak turbulence allows gas giants to form far out in the disk, the masses of these planets are substantially lower (< 1 Jupiter mass), which would preclude them from having been detected by the current generation of direct imaging surveys.