Solar Systems Without a Jupiter Can Have up to Seven Earth-like Planets

Other solar system could have as many as seven Earth-like planets, when those solar systems do not have a gas giant planet like Jupiter.

The team created a model system in which they simulated planets of various sizes orbiting their stars. An algorithm accounted for gravitational forces and helped test how the planets interacted with each other over millions of years. They found it is possible for some stars to support as many as seven, and that a star like our sun could potentially support six planets with liquid water.

Jupiter has a mass two-and-a-half times that of all the other planets in the solar system combined and limits our system’s habitability.

Only a handful of stars are known to have multiple planets in their habitable zones. Moving forward, Kane plans to search for additional stars surrounded entirely by smaller planets. These stars will be prime targets for direct imaging with NASA telescopes like the one at Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Habitable Exoplanet Observatory.

Kane’s study identified one such star, Beta CVn, which is relatively close by at 27 light years away. Because it doesn’t have a Jupiter-like planet, it will be included as one of the stars checked for multiple habitable zone planets.

Astronomical Journal – Dynamical Packing in the Habitable Zone: The Case of Beta CVn

Uncovering the occurrence rate of terrestrial planets within the habitable zone (HZ) of their host stars has been a particular focus of exoplanetary science in recent years. The statistics of these occurrence rates have largely been derived from transiting planet discoveries, and have uncovered numerous HZ planets in compact systems around M-dwarf host stars. Here we explore the width of the HZ as a function of spectral type, and the dynamical constraints on the number of stable orbits within the HZ for a given star. We show that, although the Hill radius for a given planetary mass increases with larger semimajor axis, the width of the HZ for earlier-type stars allows for more terrestrial planets in the HZ than late-type stars. In general, dynamical constraints allow ~6 HZ Earth-mass planets for stellar masses gsim0.7M ⊙, depending on the presence of farther out giant planets. As an example, we consider the case of Beta CVn, a nearby bright solar-type star. We present 20 yr of radial velocities (RV) from the Keck/High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer (HIRES) and Automated Planet Finder (APF) instruments and conduct an injection-recovery analysis of planetary signatures in the data. Our analysis of these RV data rule out planets more massive than Saturn within 10 au of the star. These system properties are used to calculate the potential dynamical packing of terrestrial planets in the HZ and show that such nearby stellar targets could be particularly lucrative for HZ planet detection by direct imaging exoplanet missions.

SOURCES- University California at Riverside, Astronomical Journal
Written By Brian Wang,