Tuesday, July 14, 2015

How Stable are Hierarchical Two Exoplanet Systems?

Stability and fates of hierarchical two-planet systems


Petrovich et al


We study the dynamical stability and fates of hierarchical (in semi-major axis) two-planet systems with arbitrary eccentricities and mutual inclinations. We run a large number of long-term numerical integrations and use the Support Vector Machine algorithm to search for an empirical boundary that best separates stable systems from systems experiencing either ejections or collisions with the star. We propose the following new criterion for dynamical stability: aout(1−eout)/ain(1+ein) greater than 2.4[max(μin,μout)]1/3(aout/ain)1/2+1.15, which should be applicable to planet-star mass ratios μin,μout=10−4−10−2, integration times up to 108 orbits of the inner planet, and mutual inclinations ≲40∘. Systems which do not satisfy this condition by a margin of ≳0.5 are expected to be unstable, mostly leading to planet ejections if μin greater than μout, while slightly favoring collisions with the star for μin less than μout. We use our numerical integrations to test other stability criteria that have been proposed in the literature and show that our stability criterion performs significantly better for the range of system parameters that we have explored.

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