"Formation of super-Earths"
Abstract: Recent observations by the Kepler space telescope have led to the discovery of more than 4000 exoplanet candidates consisting of many systems with Earth- to Neptune-sized objects that reside well inside the orbit of Mercury, around their respective host stars. How and where these close-in planets formed is one of the major unanswered questions in planet formation. I will present new results that self-consistently treat the nebular gas accretion onto rocky cores and the subsequent evolution of gas envelopes due to cooling and photo-evaporation following the dispersal of the protoplanetary disk. I will demonstrate that planets shed their outer layers (dozens of percent in mass) following the disk's dispersal (even without photo-evaporation), and that their atmospheres shrink in a few Myr to a thickness comparable to the radius of the underlying rocky core. I will conclude with comparing our new results with observations and discussing the implications for the origin and formation of terrestrial planets in our solar system and for close in exoplanets.