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E. J. Rivera, N. Haghighipour (Carnegie Institution of Washington)
The discovery of multi-body extrasolar planetary systems during the past few years has once again confronted astrodynamicists with the old question of the stability of such systems. The discovery of GJ 876 where two planets are locked in a 2:1 mean-motion resonance (Marcy et al., 2001, ApJ 556, 296), the confirmation of three planets in orbits around \upsilon And (Butler et al., 1999, ApJ 526, 916), the results of recent studies on the possibility of the formation of terrestrial planets around binary stars (Quintana et al. 2002, poster presentation, Astrobiology conference) and also new ideas on the rapid formation of ice-giant planets through the disk instability mechanism (Boss et al. 2002, Icarus, 156, 291), have set the grounds for a deeper look at the problem of the stability of multi-body systems. In this paper, we present preliminary results on the stability of bodies ranging from massless particles to planet-sized objects in two to four-planet systems. The results of our study are to be used to address questions concerning the rapid formation of ice giant planets, the stability of terrestrial planets in these systems, and the trapping of particles in resonances with the planets. The possibility of the existence of islands of stability and/or instability at different regions in multi-body systems and their probable correspondence to certain resonances are also discussed.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.