Monday, January 19, 2015

The Likelihood of ExoPlanet Formation in Close Binaries

On the Likelihood of Planet Formation in Close Binaries




To date, several exoplanets have been discovered orbiting stars with close binary companions (a~less than 30 AU). The fact that planets can form in these dynamically challenging environments implies that planet formation must be a robust process. The initial protoplanetary disks in these systems from which planets must form should be tidally truncated to radii of a few AU, which indicates that the efficiency of planet formation must be high. Here, we examine the truncation of circumstellar protoplanetary disks in close binary systems, studying how the likelihood of planet formation is affected over a range of disk parameters. If the semimajor axis of the binary is too small or its eccentricity is too high, the disk will have too little mass for planet formation to occur. However, we find that the stars in the binary systems known to have planets should have once hosted circumstellar disks that were capable of supporting planet formation despite their truncation. We present a way to characterize the feasibility of planet formation based on binary orbital parameters such as stellar mass, companion mass, eccentricity and semi-major axis. Using this measure, we can quantify the robustness of planet formation in close binaries and better understand the overall efficiency of planet formation in general.

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