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Published November 21, 2017 | Published + Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

Accelerated tidal circularization via resonance locking in KIC 8164262


Tidal dissipation in binary star and planetary systems is poorly understood. Fortunately, eccentric binaries known as heartbeat stars often exhibit tidally excited oscillations, providing observable diagnostics of tidal circularization mechanisms and time-scales. We apply tidal theories to observations of the heartbeat star KIC 8164262, which contains an F-type primary in a very eccentric orbit that exhibits a prominent tidally excited oscillation. We demonstrate that the prominent oscillation is unlikely to result from a chance resonance between tidal forcing and a stellar oscillation mode. However, the oscillation has a frequency and amplitude consistent with the prediction of resonance locking, a mechanism in which coupled stellar and orbital evolution maintain a stable resonance between tidal forcing and a stellar oscillation mode. The resonantly excited mode produces efficient tidal dissipation (corresponding to an effective tidal quality factor Q ∼ 5 × 10^4), such that tidal orbital decay/circularization proceeds on a stellar evolution time-scale.

Additional Information

© 2017 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society. Accepted 2017 August 15. Received 2017 August 14; in original form 2017 June 14. We thank the Planet Hunters and Dan Fabrycky for discovering this system, and the anonymous referee for a thoughtful report. JF acknowledges partial support from NSF under grant no. AST-1205732 and through a Lee DuBridge Fellowship at Caltech. KH acknowledges support through NASA ADAP grant (16-ADAP16-0201). This research was supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. NSF PHY11-25915, and by NASA under grant 11-KEPLER11-0056 and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation through grant GBMF5076.

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