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Anders Johansen. Profile picture.

Anders Johansen


Anders Johansen. Profile picture.

An Analytical Theory for the Growth from Planetesimals to Planets by Polydisperse Pebble Accretion


  • Wladimir Lyra
  • Anders Johansen
  • Manuel H. Cañas
  • Chao‐Chin Yang

Summary, in English

Pebble accretion is recognized as a significant accelerator of planet formation. Yet only formulae for single-sized (monodisperse) distribution have been derived in the literature. These can lead to significant underestimates for Bondi accretion, for which the best accreted pebble size may not be the one that dominates the mass distribution. We derive in this paper the polydisperse theory of pebble accretion. We consider a power-law distribution in pebble radius, and we find the resulting surface and volume number density distribution functions. We derive also the exact monodisperse analytical pebble accretion rate for which 3D accretion and 2D accretion are limits. In addition, we find analytical solutions to the polydisperse 2D Hill and 3D Bondi limits. We integrate the polydisperse pebble accretion numerically for the MRN distribution, finding a slight decrease (by an exact factor 3/7) in the Hill regime compared to the monodisperse case. In contrast, in the Bondi regime, we find accretion rates 1-2 orders of magnitude higher compared to monodisperse, also extending the onset of pebble accretion to 1-2 orders of magnitude lower in mass. We find megayear timescales, within the disk lifetime, for Bondi accretion on top of planetary seeds of masses 10−6 to 10−4 M , over a significant range of the parameter space. This mass range overlaps with the high-mass end of the planetesimal initial mass function, and thus pebble accretion is possible directly following formation by streaming instability. This alleviates the need for mutual planetesimal collisions as a major contribution to planetary growth.


  • Astrophysics

Publishing year





Astrophysical Journal





Document type

Journal article


American Astronomical Society


  • Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology




  • ISSN: 0004-637X