Wednesday, January 23, 2013
4:00 pm
Cahill, Hameetman Auditorium

Astronomy Colloquium

Are planetary systems flat?
Scott Tremaine, IAS Princeton

Laplace argued, correctly, that the small inclinations of planetary orbits implied that the solar system formed from a flat disk.  The evidence on whether extrasolar planetary systems are flat, however, is still ambiguous. I will describe (i) measurements of the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect in transiting planets, which show that many planetary systems have large stellar obliquities (angle between the stellar spin angular momentum and planetary orbital angular momentum); (ii) the curious phenomenon of Kozai-Lidov oscillations and their role in exciting eccentricities, inclinations, and obliquities; (iii) constraints on the flatness of planetary systems from the Kepler spacecraft and other sources; (iv) disk and high-eccentricity migration as competing mechanisms for the formation of hot Jupiters.

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