As a direct result of ongoing efforts to detect more exoplanetary systems, an ever-increasing number of multiple-planet systems are being announced. But how many of these systems are truly what they seem?
In many cases, such systems are announced solely on the basis of orbital fits to observational data, and no attempt is made to see whether the proposed orbits are actually dynamically feasible. As a result, it is certain that "planetary systems" are being announced that involve planets moving on orbits that would be dynamically unstable on timescales of just a few hundred years.
Here, we present the results of detailed dynamical simulations that investigate the orbital stability and evolution of a number of recently announced multi-planet exoplanetary systems. These simulations have enabled us to create highly detailed dynamical maps of those systems, allowing us to better constrain the orbits of the planets contained therein1 4 . In some cases, our results have even led to the very existence of the planets themselves being called into question2 3 .