Planet-planet scattering leads to tightly packed planetary systems

Sean N. Raymond, Rory Barnes, Dimitri Veras, Philip J. Armitage, Noel Gorelick, Richard Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


The known extrasolar multiple-planet systems share a surprising dynamical attribute: they cluster just beyond the Hill stability boundary. Here we show that the planet-planet scattering model, which naturally explains the observed exoplanet eccentricity distribution, can reproduce the observed distribution of dynamical configurations. We calculated how each of our scattered systems would appear over an appropriate range of viewing geometries; as Hill stability is weakly dependent on the masses, the mass-inclination degeneracy does not significantly affect our results. We consider a wide range of initial planetary mass distributions and find that some are poor fits to the observed systems. In fact, many of our scattering experiments overproduce systems very close to the stability boundary. The distribution of dynamical configurations of two-planet systems may provide better discrimination between scattering models than the distribution of eccentricity. Our results imply that, at least in their inner regions which are weakly affected by gas or planetesimal disks, planetary systems should be "packed," with no large gaps between planets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)L98-L101
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 PART 2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Methods: N-body simulations
  • Planetary systems: formation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Planet-planet scattering leads to tightly packed planetary systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this