Protoplanet dynamics in a shear-dominated disk

Benjamin F. Collins*, Re'em Sari

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The velocity dispersion, or eccentricity distribution, of protoplanets interacting with planetesimals is set by a balance between dynamical friction and viscous stirring. We calculate analytically the eccentricity distribution function of protoplanets embedded in a cold, shear-dominated planetesimal swarm. We find a distinctly non-Rayleigh distribution with a simple analytical form. The peak of the distribution lies much lower than the rms value, indicating that while most of the bodies have similarly small eccentricities, a small subset of the population contains most of the thermal energy. We also measure the shear-dominated eccentricity distribution using numerical simulations. The numerical code treats each protoplanet explicitly and adds an additional force term to each body to represent the dynamical friction of the planetesimals. Without fitting any parameters, the eccentricity distribution of protoplanets in the N-body simulation agrees with the analytical results. This distribution function provides a useful tool for testing hybrid numerical simulations of late-stage planet formation.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1316-1321
Number of pages6
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Planets and satellites: formation
  • Solar system: formation


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