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Kickstarting Planet Formation: The Rapid Growth of Large Planetesimals

Colloquium: Astronomy Colloquia | May 1 | 4:10 p.m. | 1 LeConte Hall


Andrew Youdin, Arizona

Department of Astronomy


The modern wealth of data on extrasolar planets is a boon to theoretical studies of the origin and evolution of planetary systems. However the great diversity of exoplanet systems also poses challenges to the goal of a coherent, unified theory of planet formation. This talk will present dynamical models of crucial early stages of planet growth. I will address the origin of the solid building blocks known as planetesimals. Aerodynamic processes, highlighted by the streaming instability, play a crucial role in the emergence of planetesimals within turbulent gas disks. Models of early planet growth can be tested with exoplanet statistics and with the relatively pristine population of Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). Finally I will discuss the implications of modern planetesimal formation models for the subsequent growth of terrestrial and giant planets.


rhelgens@astro.berkeley.edu, 510-642-5275