Wide separation planets are captured free floaters?

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Wide separation planets are captured free floaters?

Post by Sirius_Alpha on 13th February 2012, 9:38 pm

On the origin of planets at very wide orbits from re-capture of free floating planets

In recent years several planets have been discovered at wide orbits (>100 AU) around their host stars. Theoretical studies encounter difficulties in explaining their formation and origin. Here we propose a novel scenario for the production of planetary systems at such orbits, through the dynamical recapture of free floating planets (FFPs) in dispersing stellar clusters. This process is a natural extension of the recently suggested scenario for the formation of wide stellar binaries. We use N-body simulations of dispersing clusters with 10-1000 and f_FFP=0.5-2 to study this process. We find that planets are captured into wide orbits, ~100-10^6 AU, and a thermal eccentricity distribution. Typically, 3-6x(f_FFP/1) % of all stars capture a planetary companion (f_FFP is the number of FFP per star). The planetary capture efficiency is comparable to that of capture-formed stellar-binaries, and shows a similar dependence on the cluster size and structure. The capture efficiency is almost independent of the specific planetary mass; planets as well as sub-stellar companions of any mass can be captured, where the capture efficiency decreases with increasing cluster size. For a given cluster size the capture efficiency increases with the host/primary mass. More than one planet can be captured around the same host, and planets can be captured into binary systems. We also expect planets to be captured into pre-existing planetary systems as well as around compact objects, if these formed early enough before the cluster dispersal. In particular, stellar black holes have a high capture efficiency (>50 % and 5-10x(f_FFP/1) % for capture of stars and planetary companions, respectively) due to their large mass. Finally, although rare, two FFPs or brown dwarfs can become bound and form a FFP-binary system with no stellar host through this process.

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