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B.M.S. Hansen (Princeton University), P.J. Armitage (MPA - Garching)
The formation of planets in massive protoplanetary discs, where the disc itself has appreciable self-gravity, can lead to qualitatively new behaviour. In particular, we demonstrate that the opening of a gap around a newly formed protoplanet can trigger gravitational collapse at the edges of the gap, resulting in the formation of additional planets which also accrete from the disc.
This mechanism may have relevance to several observational questions, such as the rapid dissipation of some protoplanetary disks and the observed break in the mass function of extrasolar planets at values of several Jupiter masses. The resulting multi-planet systems are also dynamically interesting, and this may contribute to the observed ubiquity of planetary eccentricities.