Schedule Mar 18, 2004
Stuart Weidenschilling (Planetary Science Institute)

Accretion in the outer solar nebula differs from the terrestrial planet region, due to lower orbital velocities and larger masses of the first planetary embryos that form. The first "oligarchic" embryos that grow beyond the "snow line" can scatter smaller bodies outward. These scattered bodies have their orbits circularized in the outer nebula by dynamical friction. As they are much more massive than the indigenous planetesimals, they can act as seed bodies for rapid runaway growth. The scattering process implies that the number and orbital spacing of outer planets are stochastic rather than deterministic.

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