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Probing Planetary Interiors Through Tidal Dissipation

Presentation #301.08 in the session Exoplanets Formation of Planets and Protoplanetary Disks — iPoster Session.

Published onJun 29, 2022
Probing Planetary Interiors Through Tidal Dissipation

Before the Voyager missions gave glimpses of other planets in the Solar System and jump-started understanding of their properties, it was shown that by analyzing tidal interactions it is possible to gain key insight into the interiors of planets. The tidal quality factor, Q, was predicted for all the main bodies the Solar System, providing assumptions to be checked by future missions about planetary interiors and compositions. The history and methods of Solar System discoveries are a powerful analog as the astronomical community seeks to learn more about exoplanet architectures and interiors. Constraining the tidal quality factor, defined as the fractional energy dissipated per tidal oscillation cycle, is a way to probe the interior structure of planets without direct observations of their structure. If the dichotomy in planetary populations suggested by the radius valley phenomenon is real, there should be two distinct tidal dissipation peaks corresponding to the two distinct types of short-period planets: super-Earths, characterized by a rocky interior, and sub-Neptunes, characterized by a gaseous H/He envelope. We investigate this through analytic approaches in tandem with modeling of planetary tidal heating and find evidence of this dichotomy in planets participating in secular spin-orbit resonance. Our goal is to explore the subtle connection that links the orbital dynamics and the interior properties of this mysterious yet extraordinarily numerous population of planets.

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