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Giant planets and brown dwarfs on wide orbits: a code comparison project

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posted on 16.04.2020, 10:03 by M Fletcher, S Nayakshin, D Stamatellos, W Dehnen, F Meru, L Mayer, H Deng, K Rice
Gas clumps formed within massive gravitationally unstable circumstellar discs are potential seeds of gas giant planets, brown dwarfs and companion stars. Simulations show that competition between three processes -- migration, gas accretion and tidal disruption -- establishes what grows from a given seed. Here we investigate the robustness of numerical modelling of clump migration and accretion with the codes PHANTOM, GADGET, SPHINX, SEREN, GIZMO-MFM, SPHNG and FARGO. The test problem comprises a clump embedded in a massive disc at an initial separation of 120 AU. There is a general qualitative agreement between the codes, but the quantitative agreement in the planet migration rate ranges from $\sim 10$% to $\sim 50$%, depending on the numerical setup. We find that the artificial viscosity treatment and the sink particle prescription may account for much of the differences between the codes. In order to understand the wider implications of our work, we also attempt to reproduce the planet evolution tracks from our hydrodynamical simulations with prescriptions from three previous population synthesis studies. We find that the disagreement amongst the population synthesis models is far greater than that between our hydrodynamical simulations. The results of our code comparison project are therefore encouraging in that uncertainties in the given problem are probably dominated by the physics not yet included in the codes rather than by how hydrodynamics is modelled in them.


Theoretical astrophysics research at the University of Leicester is supported by an STFC grant. The work performed at the University of Leicester used the ALICE High Performance Computing Facility, and the DiRAC Data Intensive service at Leicester, operated by the University of Leicester IT Services, which forms part of the STFC DiRAC HPC Facility ( The equipment was funded by BEIS capital funding via STFC capital grants ST/K000373/1 and ST/R002363/1 and STFC DiRAC Operations grant ST/R001014/1. DiRAC is part of the National e-Infrastructure. FM acknowledges support from The Leverhulme Trust, the Isaac Newton Trust, and the Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship. This work was undertaken on the COSMOS Shared Memory system at DAMTP, University of Cambridge operated on behalf of the STFC DiRAC HPC Facility. This equipment is funded by BIS National E-infrastructure capital grant ST/J005673/1 and STFC grants ST/H008586/1, ST/K00333X/1. This work also used the DiRAC Data Centric system at Durham University, operated by the Institute for Computational Cosmology on behalf of the STFC DiRAC HPC Facility ( This equipment was funded by a BIS National E-infrastructure capital grant ST/K00042X/1, STFC capital grant ST/K00087X/1, DiRAC Operations grant ST/K003267/1 and Durham University. DiRAC is part of the National E-Infrastructure.



Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 486, Issue 3, July 2019, Pages 4398–4413,

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


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Oxford University Press, Royal Astronomical Society



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