Evolution of the Protosolar Nebula and Formation of the Giant Planets

  • Ricardo Hueso
  • Tristan Guillot
Part of the Space Sciences Series of ISSI book series (SSSI, volume 16)


The formation of planetary systems is intimately tied to the question of the evolution of the gas and solid material in the early nebula. Current models of evolution of circumstellar disks are reviewed here with emphasis on the so-called “alpha models” in which angular momentum is transported outward by turbulent viscosity, parameterized by an dimensionless parameter a. A simple ID model of protoplanetary disks that includes gas and embedded particles is used to introduce key questions on planetesimal formation. This model includes the aerodynamic properties of solid ice and rock grains to calculate their migration and growth. We show that the evolution of the nebula and migration and growth of its solids proceed on timescales that are generally not much longer than the timescale necessary to fully form the star-disk system from the molecular cloud. Contrary to a widely used approach, planet formation therefore canneitherbe studied in a static nebulanorin a nebula evolving from an arbitrary initial condition. We propose a simple approach to both account for sedimentation from the molecular cloud onto the disk, disk evolution and migration of solids.

Giant planets have key roles in the history of the forming Solar System: they formed relatively early, when a significant amount of hydrogen and helium were still present in the nebula, and have a mass that is a sizable fraction of the disk mass at any given time. Their composition is also of interest because when compared to the solar composition, their enrichment in elements other than hydrogen and helium is a witness of sorting processes that occured in the protosolar nebula. We review likely scenarios capable of explaining both the presence of central dense cores in Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and their global composition.


Accretion Accretion Disks Solar System:Formation Giant Planets 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ricardo Hueso
    • 1
  • Tristan Guillot
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorie CassiniObservatoire de la Côte d’AzurNice Cedex 4France

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