University of Central Lancashire | 2018 Jun 30
New research into the early stages of planet formation ... suggests that there may be more giant planets – most at least 10 times as big as Jupiter – orbiting at large distances from their host star than we previously thought.
Using supercomputers, researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Nagoya University in Japan have analysed how young planets interact with their host protoplanetary disc – the rotating disc of dense gas and dust, from which planetary systems, like our own Solar System, form. They have discovered that the early evolution of giant planets is far more diverse than expected.
As giant planets form, they take gas from their protoplanetary discs over a few millions of years in order to grow. Research has previously focused on how, as they grew, these planets moved inwards towards their parent star, often getting destroyed by it in the process.
Using computer simulations performed with the UCLan High Performance Computing (HPC) facility and the UK DiRAC supercomputer facility, researchers have now discovered that when there are strong interactions with a heavy protoplanetary disc, the growing giant planet is likely to be dragged away from its parent star, while milder interactions with a less heavy, stable disc drag the planet towards its star. ...
The Diverse Lives of Massive Protoplanets in Self-Gravitating Discs - Dimitris Stamatellos, Shu-ichiro Inutsuka