University of Florida; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Hubble Fellow

The modern planet formation literature can be roughly divided into two frameworks for the formation of giant planets.

In the core accretion model, collisions of dust grains and then small rocky bodies result in the gradual accretion of a rocky core. If the core reaches a critical mass before the gas has dissipated, then it becomes a gas giant by accreting a large envelope of gas. The early stages of this model involve complex chemistry and physics that are poorly understood. Additionally, there are concerns related to how rapidly this model can produce the core needed to capture the gas from the early protoplanetary disk.