Exoplanets & Exomoons

Tatooine's Future: The Eccentric Response of Kepler's Circumbinary Planets to Common-Envelope Evolution of their Host Stars

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
October 11, 2016
Filed under
Tatooine's Future: The Eccentric Response of Kepler's Circumbinary Planets to Common-Envelope Evolution of their Host Stars

Inspired by the recent Kepler discoveries of circumbinary planets orbiting nine close binary stars, we explore the fate of the former as the latter evolve off the main sequence.

We combine binary star evolution models with dynamical simulations to study the orbital evolution of these planets as their hosts undergo common-envelope stages, losing in the process a tremendous amount of mass on dynamical timescales. Five of the systems experience at least one Roche-lobe overflow and common-envelope stages (Kepler-1647 experiences three), and the binary stars either shrink to very short orbits or coalesce; two systems trigger a double-degenerate supernova explosion.

Kepler’s circumbinary planets predominantly remain gravitationally bound at the end of the common-envelope phase, migrate to larger orbits, and may gain significant eccentricity; their orbital expansion can be more than an order of magnitude and can occur over the course of a single planetary orbit. The orbits these planets can reach are qualitatively consistent with those of the currently known post-common-envelope, eclipse-time variations circumbinary candidates.

Our results also show that circumbinary planets can experience both modes of orbital expansion (adiabatic and non-adiabatic) if their host binaries undergo more than one common-envelope stage; multiplanet circumbinary systems like Kepler-47 can experience both modes during the same common-envelope stage. Additionally, unlike Mercury orbiting the Sun, a circumbinary planet with the same semi-major axis can survive the common envelope evolution of a close binary star with a total mass of 1 MSun.

Veselin B. Kostov, Keavin Moore, Daniel Tamayo, Ray Jayawardhana, Stephen A. Rinehart
(Submitted on 11 Oct 2016)

Comments: 61 pages, 20 figures, 11 tables; accepted for publication in the ApJ
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1610.03436 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1610.03436v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Veselin Kostov B [view email]
[v1] Tue, 11 Oct 2016 17:37:15 GMT (5032kb,D)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻