Today, Pluto and Eris are the largest and most massive Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), respectively. They are believed to be the last remnants of a population of planetesimals that has been reduced by > 99 per cent since the time of its formation. This reduction implies a primordial population of hundreds or thousands of Pluto-mass objects, and a mass-number distribution that could have extended to hundreds of Lunas, dozens of Mars, and several Earths. Such lost protoplanets would have left signatures in the dynamics of the present-day Trans- Neptunian Populations, and we statistically limit their primordial number by considering the survival of ultra-wide binaryTNOs, the Cold ClassicalKuiper belt, and the resonant population. We find that if the primordial mass-number distribution extended to masses greater than Pluto (~ 10-3M⊕), it must have turned downwards to be no more top-heavy than roughly equal mass per log size, a significant deviation from the distribution observed between 10-5M⊕ and 10-3M⊕. We compare these limits to the predicted mass-number distribution of various planetesimal and protoplanet growth models. The limits derived here provide a test for future models of planetesimal formation.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science