Runaway gas accretion and gap opening versus type I migration

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Growing planets interact with their natal protoplanetary disc, which exerts a torque onto them allowing them to migrate in the disc. Small mass planets do not affect the gas profile and migrate in the fast type-I migration. Although type-I migration can be directed outwards for planets smaller than 20−30M in some regions of the disc, planets above this mass should be lost into the central star long before the disc disperses. Massive planets push away material from their orbit and open a gap. They subsequently migrate in the slower, type II migration, which could save them from migrating all the way to the star. Hence, growing giant planets can be saved if and only if they can reach the gap opening mass, because this extends their migration timescale, allowing them to eventually survive at large orbits until the disc itself disperses. However, most of the previous studies only measured the torques on planets with fixed masses and orbits to determine the migration rate. Additionally, the transition between type-I and type-II migration itself is not well studied, especially when taking the growth mechanism of rapid gas accretion from the surrounding disc into account. Here we use isothermal 2D disc simulations with FARGO-2D1D to study the migration behaviour of gas accreting protoplanets in discs. We find that migrating giant planets always open gaps in the disc. We further show analytically and numerically that in the runaway gas accretion regime, the growth time-scale is comparable to the type-I migration time-scale, indicating that growing planets will reach gap opening masses before migrating all the way to the central star in type-I migration if the disc is not extremely viscous and/or thick. An accretion rate limited to the radial gas flow in the disc, in contrast, is not fast enough. When gas accretion by the planet is taken into account, the gap opening process is accelerated because the planet accretes material originating from its horseshoe region. This allows an accreting planet to transition to type-II migration before being lost even if gas fails to be provided for a rapid enough growth and the classical gap opening mass is not reached.


  • A. Crida
  • B. Bitsch
External organisations
  • University of Côte d'Azur
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology


  • Accretion, Migration, Planet-disk interactions, Planetary formation, Planets
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-154
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Mar 15
Publication categoryResearch