Formation of Giant Planets

  • Gennaro D’AngeloEmail author
  • Jack J. Lissauer
Reference work entry


Giant planets are tens to thousands of times as massive as the Earth and many times as large. Most of their volumes are occupied by hydrogen and helium, the primary constituents of the protostellar disks from which they formed. Significantly, the solar system giants are also highly enriched in heavier elements relative to the Sun, indicating that solid material participated in their assembly. Giant planets account for most of the mass of our planetary system and of those extrasolar planetary systems in which they are present. Therefore, giant planets are primary actors in determining the orbital architectures of planetary systems and, possibly, in affecting the composition of terrestrial planets. This chapter describes the principal route that, according to current knowledge, can lead to the formation of giant planets, the core nucleated accretion model, and an alternative route, the disk instability model, which may lead to the formation of planetary-mass objects on wide orbits.


Jupiter Jovian planets Planetary formation Planet-disk interaction Disk self-gravity 



This work benefitted greatly from discussions with Peter Bodenheimer. The authors acknowledge support from NASA’s Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Science (ROSES), and in particular from the Emerging Worlds Program. Resources supporting the work shown in Figs. 1 through 6 were provided by the NASA High-End Computing (HEC) Program through the NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division at Ames Research Center.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Theoretical Division, Los Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA
  2. 2.Space Science and Astrobiology DivisionNASA Ames Research CenterMoffett FieldUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Ralph Pudritz
    • 1
  1. 1.Origins InstituteMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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