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A Brief History of Trans-Neptunian Space

By SpaceRef Editor
February 16, 2006
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A Brief History of Trans-Neptunian Space

Astrophysics, abstract

From: Eugene Chiang [view email]
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 21:49:32 GMT   (150kb)

A Brief History of Trans-Neptunian Space

E. Chiang (UCB),
Y. Lithwick (UCB/CITA),
R. Murray-Clay (UCB),
M. Buie (Lowell),
W. Grundy (Lowell),
M. Holman (Harvard CfA)

Comments: Refereed, accepted, formatted review chapter for Protostars and
Planets V compendium

The Edgeworth-Kuiper belt encodes the dynamical history of the outer solar
system. Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) bear witness to coagulation physics, the
evolution of planetary orbits, and external perturbations from the solar
neighborhood. We critically review the present-day belt’s observed properties
and the theories designed to explain them. Theories are organized according to
a possible time-line of events. In chronological order, epochs described
include (1) coagulation of KBOs in a dynamically cold disk, (2) formation of
binary KBOs by fragmentary collisions and gravitational captures, (3) stirring
of KBOs by Neptune-mass planets (“oligarchs”), (4) eviction of excess
oligarchs, (5) continued stirring of KBOs by remaining planets whose orbits
circularize by dynamical friction, (6) planetary migration and capture of
Resonant KBOs, (7) creation of the inner Oort cloud by passing stars in an open
stellar cluster, (8) in situ coagulation of Neptune Trojans, and (9)
collisional comminution of the smallest KBOs. Recent work underscores how
small, collisional, primordial planetesimals having low velocity dispersion
permit the rapid assembly of ~5 Neptune-mass oligarchs at distances of 20-40
AU. We explore the consequences of such a picture. We propose that Neptune-mass
planets whose orbits cross into the Kuiper belt for up to ~40 Myr help generate
the high-perihelion members of the hot Classical disk and Scattered belt. By
contrast, raising perihelia by sweeping secular resonances during Neptune’s
migration might fill these reservoirs too inefficiently when account is made of
how little primordial mass resides in bodies large enough to be observable.
These and other frontier issues in trans-Neptunian space are discussed

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