When plotting mass to semi major axis on exoplanets.org, there seems to be a gap between Hot Jupiters and Cold Jupiters. A lot of Jupiter-mass planets at less than 0.1 AU have been discovered, and a lot at more than 1 AU, but there aren't so many in between.

scatter plot of discovered exoplanets

Since many planets closer and further away from their star have been discovered for the same mass, it seems unlikely that this gap would be due to observational bias.

  • $\begingroup$ Have you read about planetary migration & truncating the planetary accretion disc at its inner edge? That would be some prior research to be done.. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 11:27
  • $\begingroup$ I know about planetary migration, but do you have any links regarding the accretion disc truncation? $\endgroup$
    – usernumber
    Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ That's strange, as those are usually discussed hand in hand, when talking about Hot Jupiters. Anyway, those two connected papers talk about stopping migration at the inner cavity: ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2017A%26A...601A..15L/abstract and ui.adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2015ApJ...798...62L/abstract $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 5, 2019 at 12:56
  • $\begingroup$ If you find that the links from @AtmosphericPrisonEscape provide the solution you're after, don't forget that you can post a summary of what you've found as a formal answer to your question. This is not only encouraged (the purpose of our site being "to build a library of detailed answers to every question about astronomy"), you can even earn a badge for it! $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 9, 2019 at 23:32

1 Answer 1


Giant planets like Jupiter form through accretion in the outer part of the disk, beyond the frost line where the material is cool enough for volatile icy compounds to remain solid. These planets cannot form closer to their host star, since there is there is not enough matter in the protoplanetary disk at smaller radii.

Due to interactions with other planetesimals and the protoplanetary disk itself, the orbit of the young planets changes. This is planetary migration. Interactions with the protoplanetary disk cause planets to migrate inwards. This migration occurs rather fast, so we don't see many Jupiter mass planets at intermediate distance from their star.

The protoplanetary disk is somewhat doughnut shaped. When a migrating planet reaches the inner edge of the doughnut, the sum of forces exerted on the planet change which halts the migration.

This is why there are two clumps in the diagram, for Jupiter-mass planets. One clump (i.e. cold Jupiters) where these planets form, and one clump (i.e hot Jupiters) where they end up after migrating, but nothing in between.


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