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Evolutionary Models of Super-Earths and Mini-Neptunes Incorporating Cooling and Mass Loss

Author(s): Howe, Alex R; Burrows, Adam S

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Abstract: We construct models of the structural evolution of super-Earth- and mini-Neptune-type exoplanets with H2–He envelopes, incorporating radiative cooling and XUV-driven mass loss. We conduct a parameter study of these models, focusing on initial mass, radius, and envelope mass fractions, as well as orbital distance, metallicity, and the specific prescription for mass loss. From these calculations, we investigate how the observed masses and radii of exoplanets today relate to the distribution of their initial conditions. Orbital distance and the initial envelope mass fraction are the most important factors determining planetary evolution, particularly radius evolution. Initial mass also becomes important below a“turnoff mass,”which varies with orbital distance, with mass–radius curves being approximately flat for higher masses. Initial radius is the least important parameter we study, with very little difference between the hot start and cold start limits after an age of 100 Myr. Model sets with no mass loss fail to produce results consistent with observations, but a plausible range of mass-loss scenarios is allowed. In addition,we present scenarios for the formation of the Kepler-11 planets. Our best fit to observations of Kepler-11b andKepler-11c involves formation beyond the snow line, after which they moved inward, circularized, and underwent a reduced degree of mass loss.
Publication Date: Aug-2015
Electronic Publication Date: 29-Jul-2015
Citation: Howe, Alex R, Burrows, Adam. (2015). Evolutionary Models of Super-Earths and Mini-Neptunes Incorporating Cooling and Mass Loss. \apj, 808 (150 - 150. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/808/2/150
DOI: doi:10.1088/0004-637X/808/2/150
Type of Material: Journal Article
Journal/Proceeding Title: Astrophysical Journal
Version: Final published version. This is an open access article.



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