Effect of the rotation and tidal dissipation history of stars on the evolution of close-in planets

Research paper by Emeline Bolmont, Stéphane Mathis

Indexed on: 14 Jun '16Published on: 13 Jun '16Published in: Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy


Since 20 years, a large population of close-in planets orbiting various classes of low-mass stars (from M-type to A-type stars) has been discovered. In such systems, the dissipation of the kinetic energy of tidal flows in the host star may modify its rotational evolution and shape the orbital architecture of the surrounding planetary system. In this context, recent observational and theoretical works demonstrated that the amplitude of this dissipation can vary over several orders of magnitude as a function of stellar mass, age and rotation. In addition, stellar spin-up occurring during the Pre-Main-Sequence (PMS) phase because of the contraction of stars and their spin-down because of the torque applied by magnetized stellar winds strongly impact angular momentum exchanges within star–planet systems. Therefore, it is now necessary to take into account the structural and rotational evolution of stars when studying the orbital evolution of close-in planets. At the same time, the presence of planets may modify the rotational dynamics of the host stars and as a consequence their evolution, magnetic activity and mixing. In this work, we present the first study of the dynamics of close-in planets of various masses orbiting low-mass stars (from \(0.6~M_\odot \) to \(1.2~M_\odot \)) where we compute the simultaneous evolution of the star’s structure, rotation and tidal dissipation in its external convective envelope. We demonstrate that tidal friction due to the stellar dynamical tide, i.e. tidal inertial waves excited in the convection zone, can be larger by several orders of magnitude than the one of the equilibrium tide currently used in Celestial Mechanics, especially during the PMS phase. Moreover, because of this stronger tidal friction in the star, the orbital migration of the planet is now more pronounced and depends more on the stellar mass, rotation and age. This would very weakly affect the planets in the habitable zone because they are located at orbital distances such that stellar tide-induced migration happens on very long timescales. We also demonstrate that the rotational evolution of host stars is only weakly affected by the presence of planets except for massive companions.