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How common are Earth-Moon planetary systems?


Elser, S; Moore, B; Stadel, J; Morishima, R (2011). How common are Earth-Moon planetary systems? Icarus, 214(2):357-365.

Abstract

The Earth’s comparatively massive moon, formed via a giant impact on the proto-Earth, has played an important role in the development of life on our planet, both in the history and strength of the ocean tides and in stabilizing the chaotic spin of our planet. Here we show that massive moons orbiting terrestrial planets are not rare. A large set of simulations by Morishima et al. (Morishima, R., Stadel, J., Moore, B. [2010]. Icarus. 207, 517–535), where Earth-like planets in the habitable zone form, provides the raw simulation data for our study. We use limits on the collision parameters that may guarantee the formation of a circumplanetary disk after a protoplanet collision that could form a satellite and study the collision history and the long term evolution of the satellites qualitatively. In addition, we estimate and quantify the uncertainties in each step of our study. We find that giant impacts with the required energy and orbital parameters for producing a binary planetary system do occur with more than 1 in 12 terrestrial planets hosting a massive moon, with a low-end estimate of 1 in 45 and a high-end estimate of 1 in 4.

Abstract

The Earth’s comparatively massive moon, formed via a giant impact on the proto-Earth, has played an important role in the development of life on our planet, both in the history and strength of the ocean tides and in stabilizing the chaotic spin of our planet. Here we show that massive moons orbiting terrestrial planets are not rare. A large set of simulations by Morishima et al. (Morishima, R., Stadel, J., Moore, B. [2010]. Icarus. 207, 517–535), where Earth-like planets in the habitable zone form, provides the raw simulation data for our study. We use limits on the collision parameters that may guarantee the formation of a circumplanetary disk after a protoplanet collision that could form a satellite and study the collision history and the long term evolution of the satellites qualitatively. In addition, we estimate and quantify the uncertainties in each step of our study. We find that giant impacts with the required energy and orbital parameters for producing a binary planetary system do occur with more than 1 in 12 terrestrial planets hosting a massive moon, with a low-end estimate of 1 in 45 and a high-end estimate of 1 in 4.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute for Computational Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:530 Physics
Language:English
Date:August 2011
Deposited On:19 Feb 2012 13:15
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 15:20
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0019-1035 (P) 1090-2643 (E)
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2011.05.025
Related URLs:http://arxiv.org/abs/1105.4616

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