Dynamical Instabilities in Systems of Multiple Short-period Planets Are Likely Driven by Secular Chaos: A Case Study of Kepler-102
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Lunar & Planetary Lab
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PublisherIOP PUBLISHING LTD
CitationVolk, K., & Malhotra, R. (2020). Dynamical instabilities in systems of multiple short-period planets are likely driven by secular chaos: A case study of Kepler-102. The Astronomical Journal, 160(3), 98.
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AbstractWe investigated the dynamical stability of high-multiplicity Kepler and K2 planetary systems. Our numerical simulations find instabilities in similar to 20% of the cases on a wide range of timescales (up to 5 x 10(9)orbits) and over an unexpectedly wide range of initial dynamical spacings. To identify the triggers of long-term instability in multiplanet systems, we investigated in detail the five-planet Kepler-102 system. Despite having several near-resonant period ratios, we find that mean-motion resonances are unlikely to directly cause instability for plausible planet masses in this system. Instead, we find strong evidence that slow inward transfer of angular momentum deficit (AMD) via secular chaos excites the eccentricity of the innermost planet, Kepler-102 b, eventually leading to planet-planet collisions in similar to 80% of Kepler-102 simulations. Kepler-102 b likely needs a mass greater than or similar to 0.1M(circle plus), hence a bulk density exceeding about half Earth's, in order to avoid dynamical instability. To investigate the role of secular chaos in our wider set of simulations, we characterize each planetary system's AMD evolution with a "spectral fraction" calculated from the power spectrum of short integrations (similar to 5 x 10(6)orbits). We find that small spectral fractions (less than or similar to 0.01) are strongly associated with dynamical stability on long timescales (5 x 10(9)orbits) and that the median time to instability decreases with increasing spectral fraction. Our results support the hypothesis that secular chaos is the driver of instabilities in many nonresonant multiplanet systems and also demonstrate that the spectral analysis method is an efficient numerical tool to diagnose long-term (in)stability of multiplanet systems from short simulations.
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