On the growth and stability of Trojan planets
Astronomy Unit, Queen Mary, University of London, Mile End Rd, London, E1 4NS, UK e-mail: P.Cresswell@qmul.ac.uk
Accepted: 29 October 2008
Aims. We investigate the stability of those low-mass Trojan planets that form in a protoplanetary disc and subsequently accrete gas to become gas giants.
Methods. We calculate their evolution before, during, and after gas disc dispersal. A two-dimensional hydrodynamics code combined with an N-body solver is used to evolve the system of disc and planets. Gas disc dispersal is simulated in a simple manner by assuming global exponential decay of the disc mass, leading to the stalling of migration after semi-major axes have approximately halved from their initial values. We consider Trojan pairs with different initial masses and gas accretion rates and gas disc models with different masses and viscosities. An N-body code, adapted to model disc forces, is used to examine large-scale migration and the formation of very short period Trojan planets.
Results. For each combination of planetary pair and disc model that we consider in our hydrodynamic simulations, each Trojan system remains stable before, during, and after disc dispersal. The long-term stability of these systems in the absence of gas is tested using N-body simulations, and all systems remain stable for those evolution times equal to 109 years. Eccentricities remain low () in all cases. Increases in the amplitude of libration about the L4/L5 Lagrange points accompany the inward migration, and during very large-scale migration Trojan systems may be disrupted prior to the onset of disc dispersal.
Conclusions. The stability of Trojan pairs during rapid type I migration, during the transition to type II migration with the accompanying gap formation in the gas disc, and during gas loss when the disc disperses, indicates that isolated Trojan planet systems are very stable. If a common mechanism exists for their formation, we suggest they may be readily observed in nature.
Key words: planets and satellites: formation / hydrodynamics
© ESO, 2009