Traditional thermal evolution models of giant planets employ arbitrary initial conditions selected more for computational expediency than physical accuracy. Since the initial conditions are eventually forgotten by the evolving planet, this approach is valid for mature planets, if not young ones. To explore the evolution at young ages of jovian mass planets, we have employed model planets created by one implementation of the core-accretion mechanism as initial conditions for evolutionary calculations. The luminosities and early cooling rates of young planets are highly sensitive to their internal entropies, which depend on the formation mechanism and are highly model dependent. As a result of the accretion shock through which most of the planetary mass is processed, we find lower initial internal entropies than commonly assumed in published evolution tracks. Consequently, young Jovian planets are smaller, cooler, and several to 100 times less luminous than predicted by earlier models. Furthermore, the time interval during which the young Jupiters are fainter than expected depends on the mass of planet. Jupiter mass planets (1MJ) align with the conventional model luminosity in as little at 20 million years, but 10MJ planets can take up to 1 billion years to match commonly cited luminosities, given our implementation of the core-accretion mechanism. If our assumptions, especially including our treatment of the accretion shock, are correct and if extrasolar Jovian planets indeed form with low entropy, then young Jovian planets are substantially fainter at young ages than currently believed. Furthermore, early evolution tracks should be regarded as uncertain for much longer than the commonly quoted 106 yr. These results have important consequences both for detection strategies and for assigning masses to young Jovian planets based on observed luminosities.
- Planetary systems: formation
- Planets and satellites: formation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science