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The Road to the Radius Gap

Presentation #207.03 in the session Demographics.

Published onJun 20, 2022
The Road to the Radius Gap

Exoplanet surveys have revealed over the past decade that, to our surprise, the most prevalent class of planet is small and close-in to its host star. This population is bifurcated into two distinct types by the so-called ‘radius gap’. In this talk I will discuss the atmospheric processes which may effect such planets and finally lead to the radius gap being carved out. Specifically, I will present new results of sophisticated simulations in which planets undergo dramatic atmospheric mass-loss during protoplanetary disc dispersal, sometimes referred to as the ‘boil-off’ phase. Once this process is over, planets are subject to other mass-loss processes such as XUV photoevaporation and core-powered mass-loss, which are typically accredited with the formation of the radius gap. I will show that the boil-off phase is required in order to bring the predictions of gas accretion during planet formation and atmospheric mass-loss into alignment. I will also discuss how we may observationally separate these late-time processes to determine which (if any) is the dominant creator of the radius gap.

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