Dead zones and extrasolar planetary properties Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Most low-mass protostellar disks evolve in clustered environments where they are affected by external radiation fields, while others evolve in more isolated star-forming regions. Assuming that the magneto-rotational instability (MRI) is the main source of viscosity, we calculate the size of a poorly ionized, MRI inactive, and hence low viscosity region - the "dead zone" - in these protostellar disks. We include disk ionization by X-rays, cosmic rays, radioactive elements and thermal collisions, recombination by molecules, metals, and grains, as well as the effect of turbulence stimulation in the dead zone by the active layers lying above it. We also calculate the gap-opening masses of planets, which are determined by a disk's viscosity and a disk aspect ratio, for disks in these environments and compare them with each other. We find that the dead zone is a robust feature of the protostellar disks that is largely independent of their environment, typically stretching out to ~ 15 AU. We analyze the possible effects of dead zones on planet formation, migration, and eccentricity evolution. We show that the gap-opening mass inside the dead zone is expected to be of the order of terrestrial and ice giant mass planets while that outside the dead zone is Jovian or super-Jovian mass planets, largely independent of the star-forming environment. We show that dead zones can significantly slow down both type I and type II planetary migration due to their lower viscosity. We also find that the growth of eccentricity of massive extrasolar planets is particularly favorable through the planet-disk interaction inside the dead zones due to the large gaps expected to be opened by planets.

publication date

  • January 11, 2006