Following the suggestion of BlackQ1 that some massive extrasolar planets may be associated with the tail of the distribution of stellar companions, we investigate a scenario in which 5<=N<=100 planetary mass objects are assumed to form rapidly through a fragmentation process occuring in a disc or protostellar envelope on a scale of 100au. These are assumed to have formed rapidly enough through gravitational instability or fragmentation that their orbits can undergo dynamical relaxation on a time-scale of ~100 orbits. Under a wide range of initial conditions and assumptions, the relaxation process ends with either (i) one potential `hot Jupiter' plus up to two `external' companions, i.e. planets orbiting near the outer edge of the initial distribution; (ii) one or two `external' planets or even none at all; (iii) one planet on an orbit with a semi-major axis of 10 to 100 times smaller than the outer boundary radius of the inital distribution together with an `external' companion. Most of the other objects are ejected and could contribute to a population of free-floating planets. Apart from the potential `hot Jupiters', all the bound objects are on orbits with high eccentricity, and also with a range of inclination with respect to the stellar equatorial plane. We found that, apart from the close orbiters, the probability of ending up with a planet orbiting at a given distance from the central star increases with the distance. This is because of the tendency of the relaxation process to lead to collisions with the central star. The scenario we envision here does not impose any upper limit on the mass of the planets. We discuss the application of these results to some of the more massive extrasolar planets.
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
- Pub Date:
- July 2001
- CELESTIAL MECHANICS;
- PLANETARY SYSTEMS: FORMATION;
- PLANETARY SYSTEMS: PROTOPLANETARY DISCS;
- Submitted to MNRAS on December 18, 2000