The stability of the orbits of terrestrial planets in the habitable zones of known exoplanetary systems
Astronomy Group, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
2 Armagh Observatory, College Hill, Armagh, BT61 9DG, UK
Corresponding author: B. W. Jones, B.W.Jones@open.ac.uk
Accepted: 26 October 2000
We have investigated whether terrestrial planets can exist in orbits in known exoplanetary systems such that life could have emerged on those planets. Four contrasting systems have been examined in which giant planets have been detected. Mixed-variable symplectic numerical integration has been used to investigate the orbits of putative terrestrial planets within the habitable zone of each system (the range of distances from the star within which water at the surface of a terrestrial planet would be in the liquid phase). We have shown that Rho CrB and 47 UMa could have terrestrial planets in orbits that remain confined to their habitable zones for biologically significant lengths of time. We have also shown that the Gliese 876 and Ups And systems are very unlikely to have such orbits.
Key words: stars: planetary systems / planets and satellites: general
© ESO, 2001