Exploring plausible formation scenarios for the planet candidate orbiting Proxima Centauri
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Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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We present a study of four different formation scenarios that may be able to explain the origin of the recently announced planet (‘Proxima b’) orbiting Proxima Centauri. The aim is to examine how the formation scenarios differ in their predictions for the multiplicity of the Proxima system, the water/volatile content of Proxima b and its orbital eccentricity, so that these can be tested by future observations. A scenario of in situ formation via giant impacts from a locally enhanced disc of planetary embryos/planetesimals predicts that Proxima b will be in a multiplanet system with a measurably finite eccentricity. Assuming that the local solid enhancement needed to form a Proxima b analogue arises because of the inwards drift of solids in the form of small planetesimals/boulders, this scenario also results in Proxima b analogues being only moderately endowed with water/volatiles. A scenario in which multiple embryos form, migrate and mutually collide within a gas disc results in Proxima b being a member of a multiple system, possibly displaying mean-motion resonances, but where the constituent members are Ocean planets due to accretion occurring mainly outside of the snowline. A scenario in which a single accreting embryo forms outside the snowline, and migrates inwards while accreting planetesimals/pebbles results in Proxima b being an isolated Ocean planet on a circular orbit. A scenario in which Proxima b formed via pebble accretion interior to the snowline produces a dry planet on a circular orbit. Future observations that characterize the physical and orbital properties of Proxima b, and any additional planets in the system, will provide valuable insights into the formation history of this neighbouring planetary system.
AuthorsColeman, GAL; Nelson, RP; Paardekooper, SJ; Dreizler, S; Giesers, B; Anglada-Escudé, G
- Physics and Astronomy