Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union

Contributed Papers

On the Origins of Eccentric Close-in Planets

Soko Matsumuraa1, Genya Takedaa1 and Fred A. Rasioa1

a1 Department of Physics & Astronomy, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, 60208 email:


Strong tidal interaction with the central star can circularize the orbits of close-in planets. With the standard tidal quality factor Q of our solar system, estimated circularization timescales for close-in extrasolar planets are typically shorter than the age of the host stars. While most extrasolar planets with orbital radii a xs2272 0.1 AU indeed have circular orbits, some close-in planets with substantial orbital eccentricities have recently been discovered. This new class of eccentric close-in planets implies that either their tidal Q factor is considerably higher, or circularization is prevented by an external perturbation. Here we constrain the tidal Q factor for transiting extrasolar planets by comparing their circularization times with accurately determined stellar ages. Using estimated secular perturbation timescales, we also provide constraints on the properties of hypothetical second planets exterior to the known eccentric close-in planets.