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Formation of dust-rich planetesimals from sublimated pebbles inside of the snow line

Abstract

Content: For up to a few millions of years, pebbles must provide a quasi-steady inflow of solids from the outer parts of protoplanetary disks to their inner regions. Aims: We wish to understand how a significant fraction of the pebbles grows into planetesimals instead of being lost to the host star. Methods:We examined analytically how the inward flow of pebbles is affected by the snow line and under which conditions dust-rich (rocky) planetesimals form. When calculating the inward drift of solids that is due to gas drag, we included the back-reaction of the gas to the motion of the solids. Results: We show that in low-viscosity protoplanetary disks (with a monotonous surface density similar to that of the minimum-mass solar nebula), the flow of pebbles does not usually reach the required surface density to form planetesimals by streaming instability. We show, however, that if the pebble-to-gas-mass flux exceeds a critical value, no steady solution can be found for the solid-to-gas ratio. This is particularly important for low-viscosity disks (alpha < 10^(-3)) where we show that inside of the snow line, silicate-dust grains ejected from sublimating pebbles can accumulate, eventually leading to the formation of dust-rich planetesimals directly by gravitational instability. Conclusions: This formation of dust-rich planetesimals may occur for extended periods of time, while the snow line sweeps from several au to inside of 1 au. The rock-to-ice ratio may thus be globally significantly higher in planetesimals and planets than in the central star.Comment: 5 pages, 3 figures; accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysic

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