DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 25. Planet and Satellite Origins I: Disks, Nebulae and Giant Planets
Oral, Chairs: A. P. Boss and J. J. Lissaurer, Thursday, September 4, 2003, 1:30-3:20pm, DeAnza I-II

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[25.09] A Gas-poor Planetesimal Feeding Model for the Formation of Giant Planet Satellite Systems: Disk Size and Formation Timescale

P. R. Estrada (NASA Ames), I. Mosqueira (NASA Ames/SETI Institute)

Mosqueira and Estrada (2003a) argue that following giant planet accretion a largely quiescent circumplanetary disk may form with most of the mass inside a radius located outside, but perhaps close to, the centrifugal radius rc = RH/48, where the specific angular momentum of the collapsing giant planet gaseous envelope achieves centrifugal balance, and extending as far as the irregular satellites at ~RH/5 due to the high specific angular momentum of parcels of gas accreted from distances several times RH during the final stages of planetary growth (Lubow et al. 1999). Provided that allowances are made for the capture of Triton from heliocentric orbit, this picture fits well with the primordial satellite systems of all four giant planets.

Because strong gas turbulence would smooth out the gas surface density of the disk, this description can only apply if the turbulence subsides as planetary accretion ceases. Although the viability of a hydrodynamic shear instability in Keplerian disks that can sustain significant post-accretion turbulence and drive evolution of the gas disk is in serious doubt (see Mosqueira et al. this conference), the possibility has not yet been totally ruled out. This leads us to consider gas-poor scenarios that might produce a close-in regular satellite system. To this end, we re-examine the ideas of Safronov et al. (1986) to see whether a gas-free (or nearly gas-free) model can be made consistent with the extent of the regular satellites of the giant planets. In this model, planetesimals containing most of the mass of solids (Mizuno et al. 1978; Weidenschilling 1997) that are de-coupled from the gas and whose dynamics must be followed independently are collisionally captured and form a swarm of circumplanetary objects lasting for perhaps ~106 years. While such a swarm might occupy a significant fraction of the Hill radius of the planet, the small net angular momentum of the swarm might lead to the formation of close-in prograde satellites as observed.

A key point that this model must contend with is how to capture sufficient mass to form the Galilean satellites while still making Callisto partially differentiated. Other points of comparison with the model of Mosqueira and Estrada (2003a, b) may be briefly discussed (such as the concentration of mass in Titan, the apparent lack of objects between the regular and irregular satellites, the low density of the small Saturnian satellites, and the compositional gradient of the Galilean satellites).

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.