Orbital evolution and accretion of protoplanets tidally interacting with a gas disk. I. Effects of interaction with planetesimals and other protoplanets

Junko Kominami, Hidekazu Tanaka, Shigeru Ida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


We have performed N-body simulations on the stage of protoplanet formation from planetesimals, taking into account so-called "type-I migration," and damping of orbital eccentricities and inclinations, as a result of tidal interaction with a gas disk without gap formation. One of the most serious problems in formation of terrestrial planets and jovian planet cores is that the migration time scale predicted by the linear theory is shorter than the disk lifetime (106 -107 years). In this paper, we investigate retardation of type-I migration of a protoplanet due to a torque from a planetesimal disk in which a gap is opened up by the protoplanet, and torques from other protoplanets which are formed in inner and outer regions. In the first series of runs, we carried out N-body simulations of the planetesimal disk, which ranges from 0.9 to 1.1 AU, with a protoplanet seed in order to clarify how much retardation can be induced by the planetesimal disk and how long such retardation can last. We simulated six cases with different migration speeds. We found that in all of our simulations, a clear gap is not maintained for more than 105 years in the planetesimal disk. For very fast migration, a gap cannot be created in the planetesimal disk. For migration slower than some critical speed, a gap does form. However, because of the growth of the surrounding planetesimals, gravitational perturbation of the planetesimals eventually becomes so strong that the planetesimals diffuse into the vicinity of the protoplanets, resulting in destruction of the gap. After the gap is destroyed, close encounters with the planetesimals rather accelerate the protoplanet migration. In this way, the migration cannot be retarded by the torque from the planetesimal disk, regardless of the migration speed. In the second series of runs, we simulated accretion of planetesimals in wide range of semimajor axis, 0.5 to 2-5 AU, starting with equal mass planetesimals without a protoplanet seed. Since formation of comparable-mass multiple protoplanets ("oligarchic growth") is expected, the interactions with other protoplanets have a potential to alter the migration speed. However, inner protoplanets migrate before outer ones are formed, so that the migration and the accretion process of a runaway protoplanet are not affected by the other protoplanets placed inner and outer regions of its orbit. From the results of these two series of simulations, we conclude that the existence of planetesimals and multiple protoplanets do not affect type-I migration and therefore the migration shall proceed as the linear theory has suggested.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)540-552
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Nov 15
Externally publishedYes


  • Accretion
  • Planetary dynamics
  • Planetary formation
  • Planetesimals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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