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[en] During its five-year mission, the Kepler spacecraft has uncovered a diverse population of planetary systems with orbital configurations ranging from single-transiting planets to systems of multiple planets co-transiting the parent star. By comparing the relative occurrences of multiple to single-transiting systems, recent analyses have revealed a significant over-abundance of singles. Dubbed the “ Kepler Dichotomy,” this feature has been interpreted as evidence for two separate populations of planetary systems: one where all orbits are confined to a single plane, and a second where the constituent planetary orbits possess significant mutual inclinations, allowing only a single member to be observed in transit at a given epoch. In this work, we demonstrate that stellar obliquity, excited within the disk-hosting stage, can explain this dichotomy. Young stars rotate rapidly, generating a significant quadrupole moment, which torques the planetary orbits, with inner planets influenced more strongly. Given nominal parameters, this torque is sufficiently strong to excite significant mutual inclinations between planets, enhancing the number of single-transiting planets, sometimes through a dynamical instability. Furthermore, as hot stars appear to possess systematically higher obliquities, we predict that single-transiting systems should be relatively more prevalent around more massive stars. We analyze the Kepler data and confirm this signal to be present.
[en] Within the general framework of the core-nucleated accretion theory of giant planet formation, the conglomeration of massive gaseous envelopes is facilitated by a transient period of rapid accumulation of nebular material. While the concurrent build-up of angular momentum is expected to leave newly formed planets spinning at near-breakup velocities, Jupiter and Saturn, as well as super-Jovian long-period extrasolar planets, are observed to rotate well below criticality. In this work, we demonstrate that the large luminosity of a young giant planet simultaneously leads to the generation of a strong planetary magnetic field, as well as thermal ionization of the circumplanetary disk. The ensuing magnetic coupling between the planetary interior and the quasi-Keplerian motion of the disk results in efficient braking of planetary rotation, with hydrodynamic circulation of gas within the Hill sphere playing the key role of expelling spin angular momentum to the circumstellar nebula. Our results place early-stage giant planet and stellar rotation within the same evolutionary framework, and motivate further exploration of magnetohydrodynamic phenomena in the context of the final stages of giant planet formation.
[en] The Kepler mission and its successor K2 have brought forth a cascade of transiting planets. Many of these planetary systems exhibit multiple members, but a large fraction possess only a single transiting example. This overabundance of singles has led to the suggestion that up to half of Kepler systems might possess significant mutual inclinations between orbits, reducing the transiting number (the so-called “Kepler Dichotomy”). In a recent paper, Spalding and Batygin demonstrated that the quadrupole moment arising from a young, oblate star is capable of misaligning the constituent orbits of a close-in planetary system enough to reduce their transit number, provided that the stellar spin axis is sufficiently misaligned with respect to the planetary orbital plane. Moreover, tightly packed planetary systems were shown to be susceptible to becoming destabilized during this process. Here, we investigate the ubiquity of the stellar obliquity-driven instability within systems with a range of multiplicities. We find that most planetary systems analyzed, including those possessing only two planets, underwent instability for stellar spin periods below ∼3 days and stellar tilts of order 30°. Moreover, we are able to place upper limits on the stellar obliquity in systems such as K2-38 (obliquity ≲20°), where other methods of measuring the spin–orbit misalignment are not currently available. Given the known parameters of T-Tauri stars, we predict that up to one-half of super-Earth-mass systems may encounter the instability, in general agreement with the fraction typically proposed to explain the observed abundance of single-transiting systems.
[en] The M-dwarf GJ 876 is the closest known star to harbor a multi-planetary system. With three outer planets locked in a chaotic Laplace-type resonance and an appreciably eccentric short-period super-Earth, this system represents a unique exposition of extrasolar planetary dynamics. A key question that concerns the long-term evolution of this system, and the fate of close-in planets in general, is how the significant eccentricity of the inner-most planet is maintained against tidal circularization on timescales comparable to the age of the universe. Here, we employ stochastic secular perturbation theory and N-body simulations to show that the orbit of the inner-most planet is shaped by a delicate balance between extrinsic chaotic forcing and tidal dissipation. As such, the planet’s orbital eccentricity represents an indirect measure of its tidal quality factor. Based on the system’s present-day architecture, we estimate that the extrasolar super-Earth GJ 876 d has a tidal Q ∼ 104–105, a value characteristic of solar system gas giants.
[en] Detailed observational characterization of transiting exoplanet systems has revealed that the spin-axes of massive () stars often exhibit substantial misalignments with respect to the orbits of the planets they host. Conversely, lower-mass stars tend to only have limited obliquities. A similar trend has recently emerged within the observational data set of young stars’ magnetic field strengths: massive T-Tauri stars tend to have dipole fields that are ∼10 times weaker than their less-massive counterparts. Here we show that the associated dependence of magnetic star–disk torques upon stellar mass naturally explains the observed spin–orbit misalignment trend, provided that misalignments are obtained within the disk-hosting phase. Magnetic torques act to realign the stellar spin-axes of lower-mass stars with the disk plane on a timescale significantly shorter than the typical disk lifetime, whereas the same effect operates on a much longer timescale for massive stars. Cumulatively, our results point to a primordial excitation of extrasolar spin–orbit misalignment, signalling consistency with disk-driven migration as the dominant transport mechanism for short-period planets. Furthermore, we predict that spin–orbit misalignments in systems where close-in planets show signatures of dynamical, post-nebular emplacement will not follow the observed correlation with stellar mass.
[en] In the recent years, the 'Nice' model of solar system formation has attained an unprecedented level of success in reproducing much of the observed orbital architecture of the solar system by evolving the planets to their current locations from a more compact configuration. Within the context of this model, the formation of the classical Kuiper Belt requires a phase during which the ice giants have a high eccentricity. An outstanding question of this model is the initial configuration from which the solar system started out. Recent work has shown that multi-resonant initial conditions can serve as good candidates, as they naturally prevent vigorous type-II migration. In this paper, we use analytical arguments, as well as self-consistent numerical N-body simulations to identify fully resonant initial conditions, whose dynamical evolution is characterized by an eccentric phase of the ice giants, as well as planetary scattering. We find a total of eight such initial conditions. Four of these primordial states are compatible with the canonical 'Nice' model, while the others imply slightly different evolutions. The results presented here should prove useful in further development of a comprehensive model for solar system formation.
[en] We present a new, magnetohydrodynamic mechanism for inflation of close-in giant extrasolar planets. The idea behind the mechanism is that current, which is induced through interaction of atmospheric winds and the planetary magnetic field, results in significant Ohmic dissipation of energy in the interior. We develop an analytical model for computation of interior Ohmic dissipation, with a simplified treatment of the atmosphere. We apply our model to HD209458b, Tres-4b, and HD189733b. With conservative assumptions for wind speed and field strength, our model predicts a generated power that appears to be large enough to maintain the transit radii, opening an unexplored avenue toward solving a decade-old puzzle of extrasolar gas giant radius anomalies.
[en] The six-degree obliquity of the Sun suggests that either an asymmetry was present in the solar system’s formation environment, or an external torque has misaligned the angular momentum vectors of the Sun and the planets. However, the exact origin of this obliquity remains an open question. Batygin and Brown have recently shown that the physical alignment of distant Kuiper Belt orbits can be explained by a planet on a distant, eccentric, and inclined orbit, with an approximate perihelion distance of ∼250 au. Using an analytic model for secular interactions between Planet Nine and the remaining giant planets, here, we show that a planet with similar parameters can naturally generate the observed obliquity as well as the specific pole position of the Sun’s spin axis, from a nearly aligned initial state. Thus, Planet Nine offers a testable explanation for the otherwise mysterious spin–orbit misalignment of the solar system.
[en] Continued observational characterization of transiting planets that reside in close proximity to their host stars has shown that a substantial fraction of such objects possess orbits that are inclined with respect to the spin axes of their stars. Mounting evidence for the wide-spread nature of this phenomenon has challenged the conventional notion that large-scale orbital transport occurs during the early epochs of planet formation and is accomplished via planet-disk interactions. However, recent work has shown that the excitation of spin-orbit misalignment between protoplanetary nebulae and their host stars can naturally arise from gravitational perturbations in multi-stellar systems as well as magnetic disk-star coupling. In this work, we examine these processes in tandem. We begin with a thorough exploration of the gravitationally facilitated acquisition of spin-orbit misalignment and analytically show that the entire possible range of misalignments can be trivially reproduced. Moreover, we demonstrate that the observable spin-orbit misalignment only depends on the primordial disk-binary orbit inclination. Subsequently, we augment our treatment by accounting for magnetic torques and show that more exotic dynamical evolution is possible, provided favorable conditions for magnetic tilting. Cumulatively, our results suggest that observed spin-orbit misalignments are fully consistent with disk-driven migration as a dominant mechanism for the origin of close-in planets.
[en] The cold classical population of the Kuiper Belt exhibits a wide variety of unique physical characteristics, which collectively suggest that its dynamical coherence has been maintained throughout the solar system's lifetime. Simultaneously, the retention of the cold population's relatively unexcited orbital state has remained a mystery, especially in the context of a solar system formation model, that is driven by a transient period of instability, where Neptune is temporarily eccentric. Here, we show that the cold belt can survive the instability, and its dynamical structure can be reproduced. We develop a simple analytical model for secular excitation of cold Kuiper Belt objects and show that comparatively fast apsidal precession and nodal recession of Neptune, during the eccentric phase, are essential for preservation of an unexcited state in the cold classical region. Subsequently, we confirm our results with self-consistent N-body simulations. We further show that contamination of the hot classical and scattered populations by objects of similar nature to that of cold classicals has been instrumental in shaping the vast physical diversity inherent to the Kuiper Belt.