Monday, May 27, 2013

1305.5540 (Dimitri Veras et al.)

A simple scaling for the minimum instability time-scale of two widely spaced planets    [PDF]

Dimitri Veras, Alexander J. Mustill
Long-term instability in multi-planet exosystems is a crucial consideration when confirming putative candidates, analyzing exoplanet populations, constraining the age of exosystems, and identifying the sources of white dwarf pollution. Two planets which are Hill stable are separated by a wide-enough distance to ensure that they will never collide. However, Hill stable planetary systems may eventually manifest Lagrange instability when the outer planet escapes or the inner planet collides with the star. We show empirically that for two nearly coplanar Hill stable planets with eccentricities less than about 0.3, instability can manifest itself only after a time corresponding to X initial orbits of the inner planet, where log_{10}(X) is of the order of 5.2 mu^{-0.18} and mu is the planet-star mass ratio measured in (Jupiter mass/Solar mass). This relation applies to any type of equal-mass secondaries, and suggests that two low-eccentricity Hill stable terrestrial-mass or smaller-mass planets should be Lagrange stable throughout the main sequence lifetime of any white dwarf progenitor. However, Hill stable giant planets are not guaranteed to be Lagrange stable, particularly within a few tens of percent beyond the critical Hill separation. Our scaling represents a useful "rule of thumb" for planetary population syntheses or individual systems for which performing detailed long-term integrations is unfeasible.
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