Dynamical Instabilities in Hierarchical Star and Planetary Systems
June 20, 2012
Abstract: A large fraction of stars are formed in binary and multiple stellar systems, unlike our own singleton sun. These gravitationally bound pairs and triples are not only common, but contribute immensely to our understanding of topics ranging from nuclear physics to cosmology. In this talk I will examine the long term dynamical stability of both stellar and planetary systems. As stars evolve, they lose mass, triggering orbital instabilities. The resulting chaos leads to frequent collisions, and precipitates the formation of exotic astrophysical objects, Finally, I will describe how objects in our Solar System can help us understand another class of exotic multiples: circumbinary planetary systems.