Radial diffusion rate of planetesimals due to gravitational encounters

Keiji Ohtsuki, Hidekazu Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


We study the rate of radial diffusion of planetesimals due to mutual gravitational encounters under Hill's approximations in the three-body problem. Planetesimals orbiting a central star radially migrate inward and outward as a result of mutual gravitational encounters and transfer angular momentum. We calculate the viscosity in a disk of equal-sized planetesimals due to their mutual gravitational encounters using three-body orbital integrations, and obtain a semianalytic expression that reproduces the numerical results. We find that the viscosity is independent of the velocity dispersion of planetesimals when the velocity dispersion is so small that Kepler shear dominates planetesimals' relative velocities. On the other hand, in high-velocity cases where random velocities dominate the relative velocities, the viscosity is a decreasing function of the velocity dispersion, and is found to agree with previous estimates under the two-body approximation neglecting the solar gravity. We also calculate the rate of radial diffusion of planetesimals due to gravitational scattering by a massive protoplanet. Using these results, we discuss a condition for formation of nonuniform radial surface density distribution of planetesimals by gravitational perturbation of an embedded protoplanet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-58
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Celestial mechanics
  • Origin, solar system
  • Planetary formation
  • Planetesimals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Radial diffusion rate of planetesimals due to gravitational encounters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this