Tidal dissipation and obliquity evolution in hot jupiter systems

Francesca Valsecchi, Frederic A. Rasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Two formation scenarios have been proposed to explain the tight orbits of hot Jupiters. They could be formed in orbits with a small inclination (with respect to the stellar spin) via disk migration, or in more highly inclined orbits via high-eccentricity migration, where gravitational interactions with a companion and tidal dissipation are at play. Here we target hot Jupiter systems where the misalignment λ has been inferred observationally and we investigate whether their properties are consistent with high-eccentricity migration. Specifically, we study whether stellar tides can be responsible for the observed distribution of λ and orbital separations. Improving on previous studies, we use detailed models for each star, thus accounting for how convection (and tidal dissipation) depends on stellar properties. In line with observations suggesting that hotter stars have higher λ, we find that λ increases as the amount of stellar surface convection decreases. This trend supports the hypothesis that tides are the mechanism shaping the observed distribution of λ. Furthermore, we study the past orbital evolution of five representative systems, chosen to cover a variety of temperatures and misalignments. We consider various initial orbital configurations and integrate the equations describing the coupled evolution of the orbital separation, stellar spin, and misalignment. We account for stellar tides and wind mass loss, stellar evolution, and magnetic braking. We show that the current properties of these five representative systems can be explained naturally, given our current understanding of tidal dissipation and with physically motivated assumptions for the effects driving the orbital evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 10 2014


  • planet-star interactions
  • planetary systems
  • planets and satellites: gaseous planets
  • stars: evolution
  • stars: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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