Constraints on planetary orbital evolution theories from detection of multiple transits

University essay from Lunds universitet/Astronomi

Author: Viktor Holmelin; [2011]

Keywords: Physics and Astronomy;

Abstract: As observations of planetary systems are published from the Kepler mission more constraints can be put on the theory of planetary formation and evolution. This in turn can be used to more accurately tell what really has been observed, such as the frequency and orbital parameters with which a six planet system like the one around Kepler-11 will occur. Even if a system has been observed to have four transiting planets it is not necessarily true that it only have four planets. Here a simple computer model is created for planetary systems consisting of a given number of planets with certain orbital parameters in order to calculate the frequency with which a certain number of transits will be seen. This is then tied to the data from the Kepler mission to make a rough prediction of the frequency for planetary systems with different number of planets. It is predicted that 3% of the observed systems have six planets, 13% have four planets and 14% have two planets. The other types of systems have very small and even negative prevalence. The conclusion of this is that this model is too simple or the assumptions are wrong.

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