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Using satellites to probe extrasolar planet formation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 February 2012

Paul Withers
Affiliation:
Department of Astronomy, Boston University, 725 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA email: withers@bu.edu
Jason W. Barnes
Affiliation:
Department of Physics, University of Idaho, 875 Perimeter Drive, Moscow, ID 83844-0903, USA email: jwbarnes@uidaho.edu
Corresponding
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Abstract

Planetary satellites are an integral part of the hierarchy of planetary systems. Here we make two predictions concerning their formation. First, primordial satellites, which have an array of distinguishing characteristics, form only around giant planets. If true, the size and duration of a planetary system's protostellar nebula, as well as the location of its snow line, can be constrained by knowing which of its planets possess primordial satellites and which do not. Second, all satellites around terrestrial planets form by impacts. If true, this greatly enhances the constraints that can be placed on the history of terrestrial planets by their satellites' compositions, sizes, and dynamics.

Type
Addendum
Copyright
Copyright © International Astronomical Union 2012

References

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