Application of gas dynamical friction for planetesimals: I. Evolution of single planetesimals

The growth of small planetesimals into large planetary embryos occurs much before the dispersal of the gas from the protoplanetary disk. The planetesimal - gaseous-disk interactions give rise to migration and orbital evolution of the planetesimals/planets. Small planetesimals are dominated by aerodynamic gas drag. Large protoplanets, $m\sim0.1M_{\oplus}$, are dominated by type I migration \emph{differential} torque. There is an additional mass range, $m\sim10^{21}-10^{25}g$ of \emph{intermediate mass} planetesimals (IMPs), where gravitational interactions with the disk dominate over aerodynamic gas drag, but for which such interactions were typically neglected. Here we model these interactions using the \emph{gas dynamical friction} (GDF) approach, previously used to study the disk-planet interactions at the planetary mass range. We find the critical size where GDF dominates over gas drag, and then study the implications of GDF on single IMPs. We find that planetesimals with small inclinations rapidly become co-planar. Eccentric orbits circularize within a few Myrs, provided the the planetesimal mass is large, $m\gtrsim10^{23}g$ and that the initial eccentricity is low, $e\lesssim0.1$. Planetesimals of higher masses, $m\sim10^{24}-10^{25}g$ inspiral on a time-scale of a few Myrs, leading to \emph{an embryonic migration} to the inner disk. This can lead to an over-abundance of rocky material (in the form of IMPs) in the inner protoplanetary disk ($<1$AU) and induce rapid planetary growth. This can explain the origin of super-Earth planets. In addition, GDF damps the velocities of IMPs, thereby cooling the planetesimal disk and affecting its collisional evolution through quenching the effects of viscous stirring by the large bodies.

Comments: Accepted to ApJ

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