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Published May 10, 2020 | Accepted Version + Published
Journal Article Open

Formation of Giant Planet Satellites


Recent analyses have shown that the concluding stages of giant planet formation are accompanied by the development of a large-scale meridional flow of gas inside the planetary Hill sphere. This circulation feeds a circumplanetary disk that viscously expels gaseous material back into the parent nebula, maintaining the system in a quasi-steady state. Here, we investigate the formation of natural satellites of Jupiter and Saturn within the framework of this newly outlined picture. We begin by considering the long-term evolution of solid material, and demonstrate that the circumplanetary disk can act as a global dust trap, where s• ~ 0.1–10 mm grains achieve a hydrodynamical equilibrium, facilitated by a balance between radial updraft and aerodynamic drag. This process leads to a gradual increase in the system's metallicity, and eventually culminates in the gravitational fragmentation of the outer regions of the solid subdisk into R ~ 100 km satellitesimals. Subsequently, satellite conglomeration ensues via pair-wise collisions but is terminated when disk-driven orbital migration removes the growing objects from the satellitesimal feeding zone. The resulting satellite formation cycle can repeat multiple times, until it is brought to an end by photoevaporation of the parent nebula. Numerical simulations of the envisioned formation scenario yield satisfactory agreement between our model and the known properties of the Jovian and Saturnian moons.

Additional Information

© 2020 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2020 January 29; revised 2020 April 9; accepted 2020 April 13; published 2020 May 18. We are thankful to Katherine de Kleer, Darryl Seligman, Phil Hopkins, Mike Brown, and Christopher Spalding for insightful discussions. We thank Thomas Ronnet for providing a careful and insightful review of the manuscript. K.B. is grateful to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their generous support.

Attached Files

Published - Batygin_2020_ApJ_894_143.pdf

Accepted Version - 2005.08330.pdf


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