Migration rates of planets due to scattering of planetesimals

C. W. Ormel, S. Ida, H. Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Planets migrate due to the recoil they experience from scattering solid (planetesimal) bodies. To first order, the torques exerted by the interior and exterior disks will cancel, analogous to the cancellation of the torques from the gravitational interaction with the gas (Type-I migration). Assuming the dispersion-dominated regime and power laws characterized by indices α and β for the surface density and eccentricity profiles, we calculate the net torque on the planet. We consider both distant encounters and close (orbit-crossing) encounters. We find that the close and distant encounter torques have opposite signs with respect to α and β; and that the torque is especially sensitive to the eccentricity gradient β. Compared to Type-I migration due to excitation of density waves, the planetesimal-driven migration rate is generally lower due to the lower surface density of solids in gas-rich disk, although this may be partially or fully offset when their eccentricity and inclinaton are small. Allowing for the feedback of the planet on the planetesimal disk through viscous stirring, we find that under certain conditions a self-regulated migration scenario emerges, in which the planet migrates at a steady pace that approaches the rate corresponding to the one-sided torque. If the ratio of the local disk mass in planetesimals to planet mass is low, however, migration will stall. We quantify the boundaries separating the three accretion regimes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number80
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Oct 20
Externally publishedYes


  • methods: analytical
  • planets and satellites: formation
  • protoplanetary disks
  • scattering

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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