Document Detail

Planetary system disruption by Galactic perturbations to wide binary stars.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23292514     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Nearly half the exoplanets found within binary star systems reside in very wide binaries with average stellar separations greater than 1,000 astronomical units (one astronomical unit (au) being the Earth-Sun distance), yet the influence of such distant binary companions on planetary evolution remains largely unstudied. Unlike their tighter counterparts, the stellar orbits of wide binaries continually change under the influence of the Milky Way's tidal field and impulses from other passing stars. Here we report numerical simulations demonstrating that the variable nature of wide binary star orbits dramatically reshapes the planetary systems they host, typically billions of years after formation. Contrary to previous understanding, wide binary companions may often strongly perturb planetary systems, triggering planetary ejections and increasing the orbital eccentricities of surviving planets. Although hitherto not recognized, orbits of giant exoplanets within wide binaries are statistically more eccentric than those around isolated stars. Both eccentricity distributions are well reproduced when we assume that isolated stars and wide binaries host similar planetary systems whose outermost giant planets are scattered beyond about 10 au from their parent stars by early internal instabilities. Consequently, our results suggest that although wide binaries eventually remove the most distant planets from many planetary systems, most isolated giant exoplanet systems harbour additional distant, still undetected planets.
Nathan A Kaib; Sean N Raymond; Martin Duncan
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2013-1-06
Journal Detail:
Title:  Nature     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1476-4687     ISO Abbreviation:  Nature     Publication Date:  2013 Jan 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-1-7     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0410462     Medline TA:  Nature     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
1] Department of Physics, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario K7L 3N6, Canada [2] Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario M5S 3H8, Canada [3].
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