Planetary systems with more than two bodies will experience orbital crossings at a time related to the initial orbital separations of the planets. After a crossing, the system enters a period of chaotic evolution ending in the reshaping of the system's architecture via planetary collisions or ejections. We carry out N-body integrations on a large number of systems with equally spaced planets (in units of the Hill radius) to determine the distribution of instability times for a given planet separation.We investigate both the time to the initiation of instability through a close encounter and the time to a planet-planet collision. We find that a significant portion of systems with non-zero mutual inclinations survive after a close encounter and do not promptly experience a planet-planet collision. Systems with significant inclinations can continue to evolve for over 1000 times longer than the encounter time. The fraction of long-lived systems is dependent on the absolute system scale and the initial inclination of the planets. These results have implications to the assumed stability of observed planetary systems.
- Methods: numerical
- Planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science