Indexed on: 02 Mar '06Published on: 02 Mar '06Published in: Astrophysics
In the standard model of gas giant planet formation, a large solid core (~ 10 times the Earth's mass) forms first, then accretes its massive envelope (100 or more Earth masses) of gas. However, inward planet migration due to gravitational interaction with the proto-stellar gas disk poses a difficulty in this model. Core-sized bodies undergo rapid "Type I" migration; for typical parameters their migration timescale is much shorter than their accretion timescale. How, then, do growing cores avoid spiraling into the central star before they ever get the chance to become gas giants? Here, we present a simple model of core formation in a gas disk which is viscously evolving. As the disk dissipates, accretion and migration timescales eventually become comparable. If this happens while there is still enough gas left in the disk to supply a jovian atmosphere, then a window of opportunity for gas giant formation opens. We examine under what circumstances this happens, and thus, what predictions our model makes about the link between proto-stellar disk properties and the likelihood of forming giant planets.