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Exploring tidal obliquity variations with SMERCURY-T

Presentation #103.05 in the session “Advances in Simulations of Exoplanet Evolution”.

Published onJun 01, 2021
Exploring tidal obliquity variations with SMERCURY-T

We introduce our new code, SMERCURY-T, which is based on existing codes SMERCURY (Lissauer et al. 2012) and Mercury-T (Bolmont et al. 2015). The result is a mixed-variable symplectic N-body integrator that can compute the orbital and spin evolution of a planet within a multi-planet system under the influence of stellar obliquity tides. We validate our implementation by comparing our experimental results to that of a secular model. As we demonstrate in a series of experiments, SMERCURY-T allows for the study of secular spin-orbit resonance crossings and captures for planets within complex multi-planet systems. These processes can drive a planet’s spin state to evolve along vastly different pathways on its road toward tidal equilibrium, as obliquity tides dampen the planet’s spin rate and evolve its obliquity. Additionally, we show the results of a scenario that exemplifies the crossing of a chaotic region that exists as the overlap of two spin-orbit resonances. The test planet experiences violent and chaotic swings in its obliquity until its eventual escape from resonance as it tidally evolves. All of these processes are and have been important over the obliquity evolution of many bodies within the Solar System and beyond, and have implications for planetary climate and habitability. SMERCURY-T is a powerful and versatile tool that allows for further study of these phenomena.


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