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Planet-Planet Scattering Leads to Tightly Packed Planetary Systems.

  • Sean N. Raymond
  • Rory Barnes
  • Dimitri Veras
  • Philip J. Armitage
  • Noel Gorelick
  • Richard Greenberg
The Astrophysical Journal, Letters, vol. 696 (2011), pp. 98-101


The known extrasolar multiple-planet systems share a surprising dynamical attribute: they cluster just beyond the Hill stability boundary. Here we show that the planet-planet scattering model, which naturally explains the observed exoplanet eccentricity distribution, can reproduce the observed distribution of dynamical configurations. We calculated how each of our scattered systems would appear over an appropriate range of viewing geometries; as Hill stability is weakly dependent on the masses, the mass-inclination degeneracy does not significantly affect our results. We consider a wide range of initial planetary mass distributions and find that some are poor fits to the observed systems. In fact, many of our scattering experiments overproduce systems very close to the stability boundary. The distribution of dynamical configurations of two-planet systems actually may provide better discrimination between scattering models than the distribution of eccentricity. Our results imply that, at least in their inner regions which are weakly affected by gas or planetesimal disks, planetary systems should be "packed", with no large gaps between planets.

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