The Fate Of Interstellar Objects Captured By Our Solar System



With the recent discoveries of interstellar objects `Oumuamua and Borisov traversing the solar system, understanding the dynamics of interstellar objects is more pressing than ever.

These detections have highlighted the possibility that captured interstellar material could be trapped in our solar system. The first step in rigorously investigating this question is to calculate a capture cross section for interstellar objects as a function of hyperbolic excess velocity, which can be convolved with any velocity dispersion to compute a capture rate (Napier et. al. 2021).

Although the cross section provides the first step toward calculating the mass of alien rocks residing in our solar system, we also need to know the lifetime of captured objects. We use an ensemble of N-body simulations to characterize a dynamical lifetime for captured interstellar objects and determines the fraction of surviving objects as a function of time (since capture). We also illuminate the primary effects driving their secular evolution.

Finally, we use the resulting dynamical lifetime function to estimate the current inventory of captured interstellar material in the solar system. We find that capture from the field yields a steady state mass of only ∼10−13M⊕, whereas the mass remaining from capture events in the birth cluster is roughly 10−9M⊕.

Kevin J Napier, Fred C Adams, Konstantin Batygin

Comments: Accepted for publication in the Planetary Science Journal. 12 pages, 5 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA)
Cite as: arXiv:2109.11017 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2109.11017v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Kevin Napier
[v1] Wed, 22 Sep 2021 20:10:13 UTC (5,013 KB)

Please follow SpaceRef on Twitter and Like us on Facebook.