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How planet–planet scattering can create high-inclination as well as long-period orbits

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 November 2011

Sourav Chatterjee
University of Florida, 211 Bryant Space Science Center, Florida, USA email:,
Eric B. Ford
University of Florida, 211 Bryant Space Science Center, Florida, USA email:,
Frederic A. Rasio
CIERA, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 60208, USA email:
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Recent observations have revealed two new classes of planetary orbits. Rossiter-Mclaughlin (RM) measurements have revealed hot Jupiters in high-obliquity orbits. In addition, direct-imaging has discovered giant planets at large (~ 100 AU) separations via direct-imaging technique. Simple-minded disk-migration scenarios are inconsistent with the high-inclination (and even retrograde) orbits as seen in recent RM measurements. Furthermore, forming giant planets at large semi-major axis (a) may be challenging in the core-accretion paradigm. We perform many N-body simulations to explore the two above-mentioned orbital architectures. Planet–planet scattering in a multi-planet system can naturally excite orbital inclinations. Planets can also get scattered to large distances. Large-a planetary orbits created from planet–planet scattering are expected to have high eccentricities (e). Theoretical models predict that the observed long-period planets, such as Fomalhaut-b have moderate e ≈ 0.3. Interestingly, these are also in systems with disks. We find that if a massive-enough outer disk is present, a scattered planet may be circularized at large a via dynamical friction from the disk and repeated scattering of the disk particles.

Contributed Papers
Copyright © International Astronomical Union 2011


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