Dynamical instabilities and the formation of extrasolar planetary systems

Frederic A. Rasio, Eric B. Ford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

788 Scopus citations


The existence of a dominant massive planet, Jupiter, in our solar system, although perhaps essential for long-term dynamical stability and the development of life, may not be typical of planetary systems that form around other stars. In a system containing two Jupiter-like planets, the possibility exists that a dynamical instability will develop. Computer simulations suggest that in many cases this instability leads to the ejection of one planet while the other is left in a smaller, eccentric orbit. In extreme cases, the eccentric orbit has a small enough periastron distance that it may circularize at an orbital period as short as a few days through tidal dissipation. This may explain the recently detected Jupiter-mass planets in very tight circular orbits and wider eccentric orbits around nearby stars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)954-956
Number of pages3
Issue number5289
StatePublished - Nov 8 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


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