Did a stellar fly-by shape the planetary system around Pr 0211 in the cluster M44?
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie,
Auf dem Hügel 69,
2 Fresenius University of Applied Sciences, Platz der Ideen 1, 40476 Düsseldorf, Germany
3 Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Königstuhl 17, 69117 Heidelberg, Germany
Accepted: 16 November 2017
Out of the ~3000 exoplanets detected so far, only 14 planets are members of open clusters: one of them is the exoplanet system around Pr 0211 in the cluster M44. The system consists of at least 2 planets, and the outer planet moves on a highly eccentric orbit at 5.5 AU. One hypothesis is that a close fly-by of a neighbouring star was responsible for the eccentric orbit. We test this hypothesis. First we determined the type of fly-by that would lead to the observed parameters, and then we used this result to determine the history of such fly-bys in simulations of the early dynamics in an M44-like environment. We find that although very close fly-bys are required to obtain the observed properties of Pr 0211c, such fly-bys are relatively common as a result of the high stellar density and longevity of the cluster. Such close fly-bys are most frequent during the first 1−2 Myr after cluster formation, corresponding to a cluster age ≤3 Myr. During the first 2 to 3 Myr, about 6.5% of stars experience a fly-by that would lead to such a small system-size as observed for Pr 0211 or even smaller. It is unclear whether planets generally form on such short timescales. However, after this time, the close fly-by rate is still 0.2−0.5 Myr−1, which means that 12−20% of stars would experience such close fly-bys over this time span when we extrapolate the situation to the age of M44. Our simulations show that the fly-by scenario is a realistic option for the formation of eccentricity orbits of the planets in M44 (Wang et al. 2015). The occurrence of such events is relatively high, leading to the expectation that similar systems are likely common in open clusters in general.
Key words: open clusters and associations: general / protoplanetary disks / planets and satellites: general / planet-star interactions / galaxies: clusters: individual: M44 / methods: numerical
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