The time dependence of hot Jupiters' orbital inclinations

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Via the Rossiter-McLaughlin effect, it is possible to measure the sky-projected angle between the stellar spin and a planet's orbital spin. Observed orbital inclinations have been found to range over all possible angles. A tentative detection of a correlation between the dispersion in spin/orbit angle and the youth of the system is revealed, using spin/orbit measurements for hot Jupiters around stars with masses ge1.2 M$_⊙$ for which age estimates are more accurately determined. The probability of this pattern arising by chance has been computed to be 7 This appears in accordance with tidal dissipation, where non-coplanar hot Jupiters' orbits tidally realign. The results suggest they realign within about 2.5 Gyr. For the sample considered, the results imply that hot Jupiters are placed on non-coplanar orbits early in their history rather than late. The events producing these orbits could involve strong planet-planet scattering. Table 1 is available in electronic form at
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)L6
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2011


  • binaries: eclipsing, planetary systems, planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability, planet-star interactions


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