Synthetic evolution tracks of giant planets

Simon Müller, Ravit Helled

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Giant planet evolution models play a crucial role in interpreting observations and constraining formation pathways. However, the simulations can be slow or prohibitively difficult. To address this issue, we calculate a large suite of giant planet evolution models using a state-of-the-art planetary evolution code. Using these data, we create the python program planetsynth that generates synthetic cooling tracks by interpolation. Given the planetary mass, bulk and atmospheric metallicity, and incident stellar irradiation, the program calculates how the planetary radius, luminosity, effective temperature, and surface gravity evolve with time. We demonstrate the capabilities of our models by inferring time-dependent mass-radius diagrams, estimating the metallicities from mass-radius measurements, and by showing how atmospheric measurements can further constrain the planetary bulk composition. We also estimate the mass and metallicity of the young giant planet 51 Eri b from its observed luminosity. Synthetic evolution tracks have many applications, and we suggest that they are valuable for both theoretical and observational investigations into the nature of giant planets.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2094-2102
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • methods: numerical
  • planets and satellites: composition
  • planets and satellites: gaseous planets
  • planets and satellites: interiors


Dive into the research topics of 'Synthetic evolution tracks of giant planets'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this