Tuesday, August 6, 2013

1308.0596 (Alex Dunhill et al.)

The curiously circular orbit of Kepler-16b    [PDF]

Alex Dunhill, Richard Alexander
The recent discovery of a number of circumbinary planets lends a new tool to astrophysicists seeking to understand how and where planet formation takes place. Of the increasingly numerous circumbinary systems, Kepler-16 is arguably the most dynamically interesting: it consists of a planet on an almost perfectly circular orbit (e = 0.0069) around a moderately eccentric binary (e = 0.16). We present high-resolution 3D smoothed-particle hydrodynamics simulations of a Kepler-16 analogue embedded in a circumbinary disc, and show that the planet's eccentricity is damped by its interaction with the protoplanetary disc. We use this to place a lower limit on the gas surface density in the real disc through which Kepler-16b migrated of \Sigma_min ~ 10 g cm^-2. This suggests that Kepler-16b, and other circumbinary planets, formed and migrated in relatively massive discs. We argue that secular evolution of circumbinary discs requires that these planets likely formed early on in the lifetime of the disc and migrated inwards before the disc lost a significant amount of its original mass.
View original: http://arxiv.org/abs/1308.0596

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