Neptune's wild days: Constraints from the eccentricity distribution of the classical Kuiper Belt

Rebekah I. Dawson, Ruth Murray-Clay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Neptune's dynamical history shaped the current orbits of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs), leaving clues to the planet's orbital evolution. In the "classical" region, a population of dynamically "hot" high-inclination KBOs overlies a flat "cold" population with distinct physical properties. Simulations of qualitatively different histories for Neptune, including smooth migration on a circular orbit or scattering by other planets to a high eccentricity, have not simultaneously produced both populations. We explore a general Kuiper Belt assembly model that forms hot classical KBOs interior to Neptune and delivers them to the classical region, where the cold population forms in situ. First, we present evidence that the cold population is confined to eccentricities well below the limit dictated by long-term survival. Therefore, Neptune must deliver hot KBOs into the long-term survival region without excessively exciting the eccentricities of the cold population. Imposing this constraint, we explore the parameter space of Neptune's eccentricity and eccentricity damping, migration, and apsidal precession. We rule out much of parameter space, except where Neptune is scattered to a moderately eccentric orbit (e > 0.15) and subsequently migrates a distance ΔaN = 1-6 AU. Neptune's moderate eccentricity must either damp quickly or be accompanied by fast apsidal precession. We find that Neptune's high eccentricity alone does not generate a chaotic sea in the classical region. Chaos can result from Neptune's interactions with Uranus, exciting the cold KBOs and placing additional constraints. Finally, we discuss how to interpret our constraints in the context of the full, complex dynamical history of the solar system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number43
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Volume750
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2012

Fingerprint

Kuiper belt
Neptune (planet)
Neptune
eccentricity
histories
precession
planets
planet
history
distribution
Uranus (planet)
eccentric orbits
Uranus
circular orbits
chaotic dynamics
solar system
damping
inclination
chaos
assembly

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

@article{529b4a3e5fd24a3082712babc65ee3ff,
title = "Neptune's wild days: Constraints from the eccentricity distribution of the classical Kuiper Belt",
abstract = "Neptune's dynamical history shaped the current orbits of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs), leaving clues to the planet's orbital evolution. In the {"}classical{"} region, a population of dynamically {"}hot{"} high-inclination KBOs overlies a flat {"}cold{"} population with distinct physical properties. Simulations of qualitatively different histories for Neptune, including smooth migration on a circular orbit or scattering by other planets to a high eccentricity, have not simultaneously produced both populations. We explore a general Kuiper Belt assembly model that forms hot classical KBOs interior to Neptune and delivers them to the classical region, where the cold population forms in situ. First, we present evidence that the cold population is confined to eccentricities well below the limit dictated by long-term survival. Therefore, Neptune must deliver hot KBOs into the long-term survival region without excessively exciting the eccentricities of the cold population. Imposing this constraint, we explore the parameter space of Neptune's eccentricity and eccentricity damping, migration, and apsidal precession. We rule out much of parameter space, except where Neptune is scattered to a moderately eccentric orbit (e > 0.15) and subsequently migrates a distance ΔaN = 1-6 AU. Neptune's moderate eccentricity must either damp quickly or be accompanied by fast apsidal precession. We find that Neptune's high eccentricity alone does not generate a chaotic sea in the classical region. Chaos can result from Neptune's interactions with Uranus, exciting the cold KBOs and placing additional constraints. Finally, we discuss how to interpret our constraints in the context of the full, complex dynamical history of the solar system.",
author = "Dawson, {Rebekah I.} and Ruth Murray-Clay",
year = "2012",
month = "5",
day = "1",
doi = "10.1088/0004-637X/750/1/43",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "750",
journal = "Astrophysical Journal",
issn = "0004-637X",
publisher = "IOP Publishing Ltd.",
number = "1",

}

Neptune's wild days : Constraints from the eccentricity distribution of the classical Kuiper Belt. / Dawson, Rebekah I.; Murray-Clay, Ruth.

In: Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 750, No. 1, 43, 01.05.2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Neptune's wild days

T2 - Constraints from the eccentricity distribution of the classical Kuiper Belt

AU - Dawson, Rebekah I.

AU - Murray-Clay, Ruth

PY - 2012/5/1

Y1 - 2012/5/1

N2 - Neptune's dynamical history shaped the current orbits of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs), leaving clues to the planet's orbital evolution. In the "classical" region, a population of dynamically "hot" high-inclination KBOs overlies a flat "cold" population with distinct physical properties. Simulations of qualitatively different histories for Neptune, including smooth migration on a circular orbit or scattering by other planets to a high eccentricity, have not simultaneously produced both populations. We explore a general Kuiper Belt assembly model that forms hot classical KBOs interior to Neptune and delivers them to the classical region, where the cold population forms in situ. First, we present evidence that the cold population is confined to eccentricities well below the limit dictated by long-term survival. Therefore, Neptune must deliver hot KBOs into the long-term survival region without excessively exciting the eccentricities of the cold population. Imposing this constraint, we explore the parameter space of Neptune's eccentricity and eccentricity damping, migration, and apsidal precession. We rule out much of parameter space, except where Neptune is scattered to a moderately eccentric orbit (e > 0.15) and subsequently migrates a distance ΔaN = 1-6 AU. Neptune's moderate eccentricity must either damp quickly or be accompanied by fast apsidal precession. We find that Neptune's high eccentricity alone does not generate a chaotic sea in the classical region. Chaos can result from Neptune's interactions with Uranus, exciting the cold KBOs and placing additional constraints. Finally, we discuss how to interpret our constraints in the context of the full, complex dynamical history of the solar system.

AB - Neptune's dynamical history shaped the current orbits of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs), leaving clues to the planet's orbital evolution. In the "classical" region, a population of dynamically "hot" high-inclination KBOs overlies a flat "cold" population with distinct physical properties. Simulations of qualitatively different histories for Neptune, including smooth migration on a circular orbit or scattering by other planets to a high eccentricity, have not simultaneously produced both populations. We explore a general Kuiper Belt assembly model that forms hot classical KBOs interior to Neptune and delivers them to the classical region, where the cold population forms in situ. First, we present evidence that the cold population is confined to eccentricities well below the limit dictated by long-term survival. Therefore, Neptune must deliver hot KBOs into the long-term survival region without excessively exciting the eccentricities of the cold population. Imposing this constraint, we explore the parameter space of Neptune's eccentricity and eccentricity damping, migration, and apsidal precession. We rule out much of parameter space, except where Neptune is scattered to a moderately eccentric orbit (e > 0.15) and subsequently migrates a distance ΔaN = 1-6 AU. Neptune's moderate eccentricity must either damp quickly or be accompanied by fast apsidal precession. We find that Neptune's high eccentricity alone does not generate a chaotic sea in the classical region. Chaos can result from Neptune's interactions with Uranus, exciting the cold KBOs and placing additional constraints. Finally, we discuss how to interpret our constraints in the context of the full, complex dynamical history of the solar system.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84859884871&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84859884871&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1088/0004-637X/750/1/43

DO - 10.1088/0004-637X/750/1/43

M3 - Article

AN - SCOPUS:84859884871

VL - 750

JO - Astrophysical Journal

JF - Astrophysical Journal

SN - 0004-637X

IS - 1

M1 - 43

ER -