On the Spin-axis Dynamics of a Moonless Earth

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, May 1, 2014


Gongjie Li, Konstantin Batygin

(Submitted on 29 Apr 2014)

The variation of a planet's obliquity is influenced by the existence of satellites with a high mass ratio. For instance, the Earth's obliquity is stabilized by the Moon, and would undergo chaotic variations in the Moon's absence. In turn, such variations can lead to large-scale changes in the atmospheric circulation, rendering spin-axis dynamics a central issue for understanding climate. The relevant quantity for dynamically-forced climate change is the rate of chaotic diffusion. Accordingly, here we reexamine the spin-axis evolution of a Moonless Earth within the context of a simplified perturbative framework. We present analytical estimates of the characteristic Lyapunov coefficient as well as the chaotic diffusion rate and demonstrate that even in absence of the Moon, the stochastic change in the Earth's obliquity is sufficiently slow to not preclude long-term habitability. Our calculations are consistent with published numerical experiments and illustrate the putative system's underlying dynamical structure in a simple and intuitive manner.


8 pages, 7 figures Accepted for publication in ApJ


Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as:

arXiv:1404.7505 [astro-ph.EP]

 (or arXiv:1404.7505v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Gongjie Li 

[v1] Tue, 29 Apr 2014 20:00:16 GMT (146kb)


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