Planet packing in circumbinary systems

Kaitlin M. Kratter, Andrew Shannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The recent discovery of planets orbitingmain-sequence binarieswill provide crucial constraints for theories of binary and planet formation. The formation pathway for these planets is complicated by uncertainties in the formation mechanism of the host stars. In this paper, we compare the dynamical states of single- and binary-star planetary systems. Specifically, we pose two questions: (1) What does it mean for a circumbinary system to be dynamically packed? (2) How many systems are required to differentiate between a population of packed or sparse planets? We determine when circumbinary systems become dynamically unstable as a function of the separation between the host-stars and the inner planet, and the first and second planets. We show that these represent unique stability constraints compared to single-star systems.We find that although the existing Kepler data is insufficient to distinguish between a population of packed or sparse circumbinary systems, a more thorough study of circumbinary Transit Timing Variations (TTVs) combined with an order of magnitude increase in the number of systems may prove conclusive. Future space missions such as TESS provide the best opportunity for increasing the sample size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3727-3735
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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