Dynamical interactions of planetary systems in dense stellar environments

John M. Fregeal*, Sourav Chatterjee, Frederic A. Rasio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


We study dynamical interactions of star-planet binaries with other single stars. We derive analytical cross sections for all possible outcomes and confirm them with numerical scattering experiments. We find that a wide mass ratio in the binary introduces a region in parameter space that is inaccessible to comparable-mass systems, in which the nature of the dynamical interaction is fundamentally different from what has traditionally been considered in the literature on binary scattering. We study the properties of the planetary systems that result from the scattering interactions for all regions of parameter space, paying particular attention to the location of the "hard-soft" boundary. The structure of the parameter space turns out to be significantly richer than a simple statement of the location of the hard-soft boundary would imply. We consider the implications of our findings, calculating characteristic lifetimes for planetary systems in dense stellar environments and applying the results to previous analytical studies, as well as past and future observations. Since we recognized that the system PSR B1620-26 in the globular cluster M4 lies in the "new" region of parameter space, we performed a detailed analysis quantifying the likelihood of different scenarios in forming the system we see today.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1086-1098
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2 I
StatePublished - Apr 1 2006


  • Celestial mechanics
  • Globular clusters: general
  • Methods: n-body simulations
  • Planetary systems
  • Pulsars: individual (PSR B1620-26)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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