Extrasolar planet population synthesis
Astronomy and Astrophysics
With the high number of extrasolar planets discovered by now, it becomes possible to constrain theoretical formation models in a statistical sense. This paper is the first in a series in which we carry out a large number of planet population synthesis calculations. We begin the series with a paper mainly dedicated to the presentation of our approach, but also the discussion of a representative synthetic planetary population of solar like stars. Based as tightly as possible on observational
... observational data, we have derived probability distributions for the most important initial conditions for the planetary formation process. We then draw sets of initial conditions from these distributions and obtain the corresponding synthetic planets with our formation model. Although the main purpose of this paper is the description of our methods, we present some key results: We find that the variation of the initial conditions in the limits occurring in nature leads to the formation of planets of large diversity. This formation process is best visualized in planetary formation tracks, where different phases of concurrent growth and migration can be identified. These phases lead to the emergence of sub-populations of planets distinguishable in a mass-semimajor axis diagram. The most important ones are the "failed cores", a vast group of core-dominated low mass planets, the "horizontal branch", a sub-population of Neptune mass planets extending out to 6 AU, and the "main clump", a concentration of giant gaseous giants planets at around 0.3-2 AU.