Exoplanets & Exomoons

On The Properties Of Free Floating Planets Originating In Circumbinary Planetary Systems

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
March 28, 2024
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On The Properties Of Free Floating Planets Originating In Circumbinary Planetary Systems
This artist’s impression shows the free-floating planet CFBDSIR J214947.2-040308.9. — ESO

Free-floating planets are a new class of planets recently discovered. These planets don’t orbit within stellar systems, instead living a nomadic life within the galaxy.

How such objects formed remains elusive. Numerous works have explored mechanisms to form such objects, but have not yet provided predictions on their distributions that could differentiate between formation mechanisms. In this work we form these objects within circumbinary systems, where these planets are readily formed and ejected through interactions with the central binary stars.

We find significant differences between planets ejected through planet-planet interactions and those by the binary stars. The main differences that arise are in the distributions of excess velocity, where binary stars eject planets with faster velocities. These differences should be observable amongst known free-floating planets in nearby star-forming regions.

We predict that targeted observations of directly imaged free-floating planets in these regions should be able to determine their preferred formation pathway, either by planet formation in single or multiple stellar systems, or through processes akin to star formation. Additionally the mass distributions of free-floating planets can yield important insights into the underlying planet populations.

We find that for planets more massive than 20 M, their frequencies are similar to those planets remaining bound and orbiting near the central binaries. This similarity allows for effective and informative comparisons between mass distributions from microlensing surveys, to those of transit and radial velocities. Ultimately, by observing the velocity dispersion and mass distribution of free-floating planets, it will be possible to effectively compare with predictions from planet formation models, and to further understand the formation and evolution of these exotic worlds.

Gavin A. L. Coleman

Comments: Accepted for publication in MNRAS. 16 pages, 14 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA)
Cite as: arXiv:2403.18481 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2403.18481v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Gavin Coleman
[v1] Wed, 27 Mar 2024 11:52:19 UTC (2,829 KB)

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) 🖖🏻