Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Understanding the Formation & Assembly of Kepler's Compact Exoplanetary Systems

Understanding the assembly of Kepler's compact planetary systems


Hands et al


The Kepler mission has recently discovered a number of exoplanetary systems, such as Kepler-11 and Kepler-32, in which ensembles of several planets are found in very closely packed orbits (often within a few percent of an AU of one another). These compact configurations present a challenge for traditional planet formation and migration scenarios. We present a dynamical study of the assembly of these systems, using an N-body method which incorporates a parametrized model of planet migration in a turbulent protoplanetary disc. We explore a wide parameter space, and find that under suitable conditions it is possible to form compact, close-packed planetary systems via traditional disc-driven migration. We find that simultaneous migration of multiple planets is a viable mechanism for the assembly of tightly-packed planetary systems, as long as the disc provides significant eccentricity damping and the level of turbulence in the disc is modest. We discuss the implications of our preferred parameters for the protoplanetary discs in which these systems formed, and comment on the occurrence and significance of mean-motion resonances in our simulations.

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