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A Fraeman (Yale University and Carnegie Institute of Washington), N Haghighipour (Institute for Astronomy, University of Hawaii)
Water vapor, OH, and H2CO have been detected around the carbon-rich star IRC +10216. It has been suggested that the presence of these chemicals is evidence for the existence of a cometary system around that star. Observations have also indicated that the distribution of OH around the star is not symmetric. We previously proposed that the asymmetry in the OH can be caused by an asymmetric distribution of the comets around IRC +10216. Previous work also proposed that the asymmetric distribution of the comets around IRC +10216 might be due to the gravitational influence of a Jupiter-sized planet. The purpose of this study is to investigate whether the presence of a planet can plausibly account for such a distribution of extrasolar comets. We have considered a planetary system consisting of a star and a Jupiter-sized planet, and studied the orbital stability of a large grid of comets around the planet's Lagrangian points. We have run numerical simulations of orbital stability for different masses of the central star, and also for different values of the mass and semimajor axis of the planet. The simulations indicate that stable cometary orbits can exist, and it is possible that a collection of comets be held in stable resonant orbits with the planet.
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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #4
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.