On the survivability of a population of gas giant planets on wide orbits

Carter, Ethan James and Stamatellos, Dimitris orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-4502-8344 (2023) On the survivability of a population of gas giant planets on wide orbits. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 525 (2). pp. 1912-1921. ISSN 0035-8711

[thumbnail of VOR]
PDF (VOR) - Published Version

Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stad2314


The existence of giant planets on wide orbits (∼>100AU) challenge planet formation theories; the core accretion scenario has difficulty in forming them, whereas the disc instability model forms an overabundance of them that is not seen observations. We perform N-body simulations investigating the effect of close stellar encounters (≤1200AU) on systems hosting wide-orbit giant planets and the extent at which such interactions may disrupt the initial wide-orbit planet population. We find that the effect of an interaction on the orbit of a planet is stronger for high-mass, low-velocity perturbers, as expected. We find that due to just a single encounter there is a ∼17 chance that the wide-orbit giant planet is liberated in the field, a ∼10% chance it is scattered significantly outwards, and a ∼6% chance it is significantly scattered inwards. Moreover, there is a ∼21% chance that its eccentricity is excited to e>0.1, making it more prone to disruption in subsequent encounters. The results strongly suggest that the effect of even a single stellar encounter is significant in disrupting the primordial wide-orbit giant planet population; in reality the effect will be even more prominent, as in a young star-forming region more such interactions are expected to occur. We conclude that the low occurrence rate of wide-orbit planets revealed by observational surveys does not exclude the possibility that such planetary systems are initially abundant, and therefore the disc-instability model may be a plausible scenario for their formation.

Repository Staff Only: item control page