Mean motion resonances in extrasolar planetary systems with turbulence, interactions, and damping

Daniel Lecoanet*, Fred C. Adams, Anthony M. Bloch

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This paper continues our previous exploration of the effects of turbulence on mean motion resonances in extrasolar planetary systems. Turbulence is expected to be present in the circumstellar disks that give rise to planets, and these fluctuations act to compromise resonant configurations. This paper extends previous work by considering how interactions between the planets and possible damping effects imposed by the disk affect the outcomes. These physical processes are studied using three related approaches: direct numerical integrations of the three-body problem with additional forcing due to turbulence, model equations that reduce the problem to stochastically driven oscillators, and Fokker-Planck equations that describe the time evolution of an ensemble of such systems. With this combined approach, we elucidate the basic physics of how turbulence can remove extrasolar planetary systems from mean motion resonance. As expected, systems with sufficiently large damping (dissipation) can maintain resonance, in spite of turbulent forcing. In the absence of strong damping, ensembles of these systems exhibit two regimes of behavior, where the fraction of the bound states decreases as a power law or as an exponential. Both types of behavior can be understood through the model developed herein. For systems that have weak interactions between the planets, the model reduces to that of a stochastic pendulum, and the fraction of bound states decreases as a power law P b ∝ t -1/2. For highly interactive systems, however, the dynamics are more complicated and the fraction of bound states decreases exponentially with time. We show how planetary interactions lead to drift terms in the Fokker-Planck equation and account for this exponential behavior. In addition to clarifying the physical processes involved, this paper strengthens our original finding that turbulence implies that mean motion resonances should be rare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)659-676
Number of pages18
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • MHD
  • planetary systems
  • planetary systems: formation
  • planets and satellites: formation
  • turbulence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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