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Are Planetary Systems Flat?

Colloquium: Astronomy Colloquia | October 31 | 4:10 p.m. | 2 LeConte Hall

Scott Tremaine, IAS

Department of Astronomy

Laplace argued, correctly, that the small inclinations of planetary orbits implied that the solar system formed from a flat disk. The observational and theoretical evidence on whether extrasolar planetary systems are flat, however, is still ambiguous. I will discuss constraints on flatness from the Kepler spacecraft and other sources; measurements of the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect in transiting planets, which show that many planetary systems have misaligned stellar spin and planetary orbital angular momenta; Lidov-Kozai oscillations; and competing migration mechanisms for the formation of giant planets at small orbital radii., 510-642-5275