Super-Earths are the most abundant planets known to date and are characterized by having sizes between that of Earth and Neptune, typical orbital periods of less than 100 days and gaseous envelopes that are often massive enough to significantly contribute to the planet’s overall radius. Furthermore, super-Earths regularly appear in tightly-packed multiple-planet systems, but resonant configurations in such systems are rare. This chapters summarizes current super-Earth formation theories. It starts from the formation of rocky cores and subsequent accretion of gaseous envelopes. We follow the thermal evolution of newly formed super-Earths and discuss their atmospheric mass loss due to disk dispersal, photoevaporation, core-cooling and collisions. We conclude with a comparison of observations and theoretical predictions, highlighting that even super-Earths that appear as barren rocky cores today likely formed with primordial hydrogen and helium envelopes and discuss some paths forward for the future.
Mon, 12 Feb 18
Comments: Invited review accepted for publication in the ‘Handbook of Exoplanets,’ Planet Formation section, Springer Reference Works, Juan Antonio Belmonte and Hans Deeg, Eds