The (yet-to-be confirmed) discovery of a Neptune-sized moon around the ˜3.2 Jupiter-mass planet in Kepler 1625 puts interesting constraints on the formation of the system. In particular, the relatively wide orbit of the moon around the planet, at ˜40 planetary radii, is hard to reconcile with planet formation theories. We demonstrate that the observed characteristics of the system can be explained from the tidal capture of a secondary planet in the young system. After a quick phase of tidal circularization, the lunar orbit, initially much tighter than 40 planetary radii, subsequently gradually widened due to tidal synchronization of the spin of the planet with the orbit, resulting in a synchronous planet-moon system. Interestingly, in our scenario the captured object was originally a Neptune-like planet, turned into a moon by its capture.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- December 2018
- planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability;
- planets and satellites: formation;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- Accepted for publication in ApJL. 7 pages, 5 figures