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An interstellar origin for high-inclination Centaurs

By SpaceRef Editor
April 23, 2020
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Fathi Namouni, Helena Morais

We investigate the possible origins of real high-inclination Centaurs and trans-neptunian objects using a high-resolution statistical search for stable orbits that simulates their evolution back in time to the epoch when planet formation ended 4.5 billion years in the past. The simulation is a precise orbit determination method that does not involve ad hoc initial conditions or assumptions such as those found in planetesimal disk relaxation models upon which their conclusions depend. It can therefore be used to independently test origin theories based on relaxation models by examining the past orbits of specific real objects. Here, we examined 17 multiple-opposition high-inclination Centaurs and the two polar trans-neptunian objects 2008 KV42 and (471325) 2011 KT19. The statistical distributions show that their orbits were nearly polar 4.5 Gyr in the past, and were located in the scattered disk and inner Oort cloud regions. Early polar inclinations cannot be accounted for by current Solar system formation theory as the early planetesimal system must have been nearly flat in order to explain the low-inclination asteroid and Kuiper belts. Furthermore, the early scattered disk and inner Oort cloud regions are believed to have been devoid of Solar system material as the planetesimal disk could not have extended far beyond Neptune’s current orbit in order to halt the planet’s outward migration. The nearly polar orbits of high-inclination Centaurs 4.5 Gyr in the past therefore indicate their probable early capture from the interstellar medium.

Comments: 10 pages, 4 figures

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA)

DOI: 10.1093/mnras/staa712

Cite as: arXiv:2004.10510 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2004.10510v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Fathi Namouni 

[v1] Wed, 22 Apr 2020 11:52:50 UTC (221 KB)

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