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Stars do not Eat Their Young Migrating Planets: Empirical Constraints on Planet Migration Halting Mechanisms

Plavchan, Peter and Bilinski, Christopher (2013) Stars do not Eat Their Young Migrating Planets: Empirical Constraints on Planet Migration Halting Mechanisms. Astrophysical Journal, 769 (2). Art. No. 86. ISSN 0004-637X.

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The discovery of "hot Jupiters" very close to their parent stars confirmed that Jovian planets migrate inward via several potential mechanisms. We present empirical constraints on planet migration halting mechanisms. We compute model density functions of close-in exoplanets in the orbital semi-major axis-stellar mass plane to represent planet migration that is halted via several mechanisms, including the interior 1:2 resonance with the magnetospheric disk truncation radius, the interior 1:2 resonance with the dust sublimation radius, and several scenarios for tidal halting. The models differ in the predicted power-law dependence of the exoplanet orbital semi-major axis as a function of stellar mass, and thus we also include a power-law model with the exponent as a free parameter. We use a Bayesian analysis to assess the model success in reproducing empirical distributions of confirmed exoplanets and Kepler candidates that orbit interior to 0.1 AU. Our results confirm a correlation of the halting distance with stellar mass. Tidal halting provides the best fit to the empirical distribution of confirmed Jovian exoplanets at a statistically robust level, consistent with the Kozai mechanism and the spin-orbit misalignment of a substantial fraction of hot Jupiters. We can rule out migration halting at the interior 1:2 resonances with the magnetospheric disk truncation radius and the interior 1:2 resonance with the dust disk sublimation radius, a uniform random distribution, and a distribution with no dependence on stellar mass. Note that our results do not rule out Type-II migration, but rather eliminate the role of a circumstellar disk in stopping exoplanet migration. For Kepler candidates, which have a more restricted range in stellar mass compared to confirmed planets, we are unable to discern between the tidal dissipation and magnetospheric disk truncation braking mechanisms at a statistically significant level. The power-law model favors exponents in the range of 0.38-0.9. This is larger than that predicted for tidal halting (0.23-0.33), which suggests that additional physics may be missing in the tidal halting theory.

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Plavchan, Peter0000-0002-8864-1667
Additional Information:© 2013 American Astronomical Society. Received 2011 December 7; accepted 2013 March 23; published 2013 May 7. The authors thank the referee Dan Fabrycky for his patience, corrections, and comments to our analysis, which substantially improved this work. This research has made use of the NASA Exoplanet Archive, which is operated by the California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under the Exoplanet Exploration Program. This research has made use of the Exoplanet Orbit Database and the Exoplanet Data Explorer at The authors also thank Thayne Currie for his useful (and rapid turnaround) comments on the manuscript. We also acknowledge the utility of the Bayesian statistics class taught by John Johnson at Caltech.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:planet-disk interactions; planet-star interactions; protoplanetary disks
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130718-151839066
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Official Citation:Stars do not Eat Their Young Migrating Planets: Empirical Constraints on Planet Migration Halting Mechanisms Peter Plavchan and Christopher Bilinski doi:10.1088/0004-637X/769/2/86
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:39455
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:19 Jul 2013 14:30
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 05:07

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