The eccentricity evolution of multiple planet systems can provide valuable constraints on planet formation models. Unfortunately, the inevitable uncertainties in the current orbital elements can lead to significant ambiguities in the nature of the secular evolution. Integrating any single set of orbital elements inadequately describes the full range of secular evolutions consistent with current observations. Thus, we combine radial velocity observations of HD 12661 with Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampling to generate ensembles of initial conditions for direct n-body integrations. We find that any mean motion resonances are quite weak and do not significantly impact the secular evolution, and that current observations indicate circulation or large-amplitude libration of the periapses. The eccentricity of the outer planet undergoes large oscillations for nearly all of the allowed two-planet orbital solutions. This type of secular evolution would arise if planet c had been impulsively perturbed, perhaps due to strong scattering of an additional planet that was subsequently accreted onto the star. Finally, we note that the secular evolution implied by the current orbital configuration implies that planet c spends-96% of the time following an orbit more eccentric than that presently observed. Either this system is being observed during a relatively rare state, or additional planets are affecting the observed radial velocities and/or the system's secular eccentricity evolution.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science