Hints for a Turnover at the Snow Line in the Giant Planet Occurrence Rate

Rachel B. Fernandes, Gijs D. Mulders, Ilaria Pascucci, Christoph Mordasini, Alexandre Emsenhuber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

169 Scopus citations


The orbital distribution of giant planets is crucial for understanding how terrestrial planets form and predicting yields of exoplanet surveys. Here, we derive giant planets occurrence rates as a function of orbital period by taking into account the detection efficiency of the Kepler and radial velocity (RV) surveys. The giant planet occurrence rates for Kepler and RV show the same rising trend with increasing distance from the star. We identify a break in the RV giant planet distribution between ∼2 and 3 au - close to the location of the snow line in the solar system - after which the occurrence rate decreases with distance from the star. Extrapolating a broken power-law distribution to larger semimajor axes, we find good agreement with the ∼1% planet occurrence rates from direct imaging surveys. Assuming a symmetric power law, we also estimate that the occurrence of giant planets between 0.1 and 100 au is for planets with masses 0.1-20 M J and decreases to for planets more massive than Jupiter. This implies that only a fraction of the structures detected in disks around young stars can be attributed to giant planets. Various planet population synthesis models show good agreement with the observed distribution, and we show how a quantitative comparison between model and data can be used to constrain planet formation and migration mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number81
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 20 Mar 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • methods: statistical
  • planetary systems
  • planets and satellites: formation
  • protoplanetary disks
  • surveys


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