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[en] The cold classical population of the Kuiper Belt exhibits a wide variety of unique physical characteristics, which collectively suggest that its dynamical coherence has been maintained throughout the solar system's lifetime. Simultaneously, the retention of the cold population's relatively unexcited orbital state has remained a mystery, especially in the context of a solar system formation model, that is driven by a transient period of instability, where Neptune is temporarily eccentric. Here, we show that the cold belt can survive the instability, and its dynamical structure can be reproduced. We develop a simple analytical model for secular excitation of cold Kuiper Belt objects and show that comparatively fast apsidal precession and nodal recession of Neptune, during the eccentric phase, are essential for preservation of an unexcited state in the cold classical region. Subsequently, we confirm our results with self-consistent N-body simulations. We further show that contamination of the hot classical and scattered populations by objects of similar nature to that of cold classicals has been instrumental in shaping the vast physical diversity inherent to the Kuiper Belt.
[en] In the recent years, the 'Nice' model of solar system formation has attained an unprecedented level of success in reproducing much of the observed orbital architecture of the solar system by evolving the planets to their current locations from a more compact configuration. Within the context of this model, the formation of the classical Kuiper Belt requires a phase during which the ice giants have a high eccentricity. An outstanding question of this model is the initial configuration from which the solar system started out. Recent work has shown that multi-resonant initial conditions can serve as good candidates, as they naturally prevent vigorous type-II migration. In this paper, we use analytical arguments, as well as self-consistent numerical N-body simulations to identify fully resonant initial conditions, whose dynamical evolution is characterized by an eccentric phase of the ice giants, as well as planetary scattering. We find a total of eight such initial conditions. Four of these primordial states are compatible with the canonical 'Nice' model, while the others imply slightly different evolutions. The results presented here should prove useful in further development of a comprehensive model for solar system formation.
[en] We have obtained a full suite of Spitzer observations to characterize the debris disk around HR 8799 and to explore how its properties are related to the recently discovered set of three massive planets orbiting the star. We distinguish three components to the debris system: (1) warm dust (T ∼ 150 K) orbiting within the innermost planet; (2) a broad zone of cold dust (T ∼ 45 K) with a sharp inner edge orbiting just outside the outermost planet and presumably sculpted by it; and (3) a dramatic halo of small grains originating in the cold dust component. The high level of dynamical activity implied by this halo may arise due to enhanced gravitational stirring by the massive planets. The relatively young age of HR 8799 places it in an important early stage of development and may provide some help in understanding the interaction of planets and planetary debris, an important process in the evolution of our own solar system.
[en] We present the first measurement of the planet frequency beyond the 'snow line', for the planet-to-star mass-ratio interval -4.5 < log q < -2, corresponding to the range of ice giants to gas giants. We find (d2Npl)/(d log q d log s) = (0.36±0.15) dex-2 at the mean mass ratio q = 5 x 10-4 with no discernible deviation from a flat (Oepik's law) distribution in log-projected separation s. The determination is based on a sample of six planets detected from intensive follow-up observations of high-magnification (A>200) microlensing events during 2005-2008. The sampled host stars have a typical mass Mhost ∼ 0.5 M sun, and detection is sensitive to planets over a range of planet-star-projected separations (s -1max R E, smax R E), where R E ∼ 3.5 AU(Mhost/Msun)1/2 is the Einstein radius and s max ∼ (q/10-4.3)1/3. This corresponds to deprojected separations roughly three times the 'snow line'. We show that the observations of these events have the properties of a 'controlled experiment', which is what permits measurement of absolute planet frequency. High-magnification events are rare, but the survey-plus-follow-up high-magnification channel is very efficient: half of all high-mag events were successfully monitored and half of these yielded planet detections. The extremely high sensitivity of high-mag events leads to a policy of monitoring them as intensively as possible, independent of whether they show evidence of planets. This is what allows us to construct an unbiased sample. The planet frequency derived from microlensing is a factor 8 larger than the one derived from Doppler studies at factor ∼25 smaller star-planet separations (i.e., periods 2-2000 days). However, this difference is basically consistent with the gradient derived from Doppler studies (when extrapolated well beyond the separations from which it is measured). This suggests a universal separation distribution across 2 dex in planet-star separation, 2 dex in mass ratio, and 0.3 dex in host mass. Finally, if all planetary systems were 'analogs' of the solar system, our sample would have yielded 18.2 planets (11.4 'Jupiters', 6.4 'Saturns', 0.3 'Uranuses', 0.2 'Neptunes') including 6.1 systems with two or more planet detections. This compares to six planets including one two-planet system in the actual sample, implying a first estimate of 1/6 for the frequency of solar-like systems.
[en] We present a Spitzer IRAC and MIPS survey of NGC 2451A and B, two open clusters in the 50-80 Myr age range. We complement these data with extensive ground-based photometry and spectroscopy to identify the cluster members in the Spitzer survey field. We find only two members with 8 μm excesses. The incidence of excesses at 24 μm is much higher, i.e., 11 of 31 solar-like stars and 1 of 7 early-type (A) stars. This work nearly completes the debris disk surveys with Spitzer of clusters in the 30-130 Myr range. This range is of interest because it is when large planetesimal collisions may have still been relatively common (as indicated by the one that led to the formation of the Moon during this period of the evolution of the solar system). We review the full set of surveys and find that there are only three possible cases out of about 250 roughly solar-mass stars where very large excesses suggest that such collisions have occurred recently.
[en] We have searched Microvariability and Oscillations of Stars (MOST) satellite photometry obtained in 2004, 2005, and 2007 of the solar-type star HD 209458 for Trojan asteroid swarms dynamically coupled with the system's transiting 'hot Jupiter' HD 209458b. Observations of the presence and nature of asteroids around other stars would provide unique constraints on migration models of exoplanetary systems. Our results set an upper limit on the optical depth of Trojans in the HD 209458 system that can be used to guide current and future searches of similar systems by upcoming missions. Using cross-correlation methods with artificial signals implanted in the data, we find that our detection limit corresponds to a relative Trojan transit depth of 1 x10-4, equivalent to ∼1 lunar mass of asteroids, assuming power-law Trojan size distributions similar to Jupiter's Trojans in our solar system. We confirm with dynamical interpretations that some asteroids could have migrated inward with the planet to its current orbit at 0.045 AU, and that the Yarkovsky effect is ineffective at eliminating objects of >1 m in size. However, using numerical models of collisional evolution we find that, due to high relative speeds in this confined Trojan environment, collisions destroy the vast majority of the asteroids in <10 Myr. Our modeling indicates that the best candidates to search for exoTrojan swarms in 1:1 mean resonance orbits with 'hot Jupiters' are young systems (ages of about 1 Myr or less). Years of Kepler satellite monitoring of such a system could detect an asteroid swarm with a predicted transit depth of 3 x 10-7.
[en] The xenon anomalies trapped in meteorites and the Moon may have first been trapped in circumstellar grains formed in or outside of postexplosive stars. In that case, the initial solar nebula need not have contained most of their radioactive progenitors, and this would necessitate major revision of the history of solar system formation
[en] This study presents a survey of abundance distribution and isotopic composition of the ammonia found incorporated in the kerogen-like insoluble material of selected carbonaceous chondrite meteorites; the ammonia was released upon hydrothermal treatment at 300°C and 100 MPa. With the exception of Allende, a metamorphosed and highly altered stone, all the insoluble organic materials (IOM) of the meteorites analyzed released significant amounts of ammonia, which varied from over 4 μg mg–1 for the Orgueil IOM to 0.5 μg mg–1 for that of Tagish Lake; the IOM of the pristine Antarctica find GRA95229 remains the most rich in freeable ammonia with 10 μg mg–1. While the amounts of IOM bound ammonia do not appear to vary between meteorites with a recognizable trend, a possible consequence of long terrestrial exposure of some of the stones, we found that the δ15N composition of the ammonia-carrying materials is clearly distinctive of meteorite types and may reflect a preservation of the original 15N distribution of pre- and proto-solar materials.
[en] We carry out a series of high-resolution (1024 x 1024) hydrodynamical simulations to investigate the orbital evolution of Jupiter and Saturn embedded in a gaseous protostellar disk. Our work extends the results in the classical papers of Masset and Snellgrove and Morbidelli and Crida by exploring various surface density profiles (σ), where σ ∝ r -α. The stability of the mean motion resonances (MMRs) caused by the convergent migration of the two planets is studied as well. Our results show that (1) the gap formation process of Saturn is greatly delayed by the tidal perturbation of Jupiter. These perturbations cause inward or outward runaway migration of Saturn, depending on the density profiles on the disk. (2) The convergent migration rate increases as α increases and the type of MMRs depends on α as well. When 0 < α < 1, the convergent migration speed of Jupiter and Saturn is relatively slow, thus they are trapped into 2:1 MMR. When α>4/3, Saturn passes through the 2:1 MMR with Jupiter and is captured into the 3:2 MMR. (3) The 3:2 MMR turns out to be unstable when the eccentricity of Saturn (es ) increases too high. The critical value above which instability will set in is es ∼ 0.15. We also observe that the two planets are trapped into 2:1 MMR after the break of 3:2 MMR. This process may provide useful information for the formation of orbital configuration between Jupiter and Saturn in the solar system.
[en] Many binary minor planets (BMPs; both binary asteroids and binary trans-Neptunian objects) are known to exist in the solar system. The currently observed orbital and physical properties of BMPs hold essential information and clues about their origin, their evolution, and the conditions under which they evolved. Here, we study the orbital properties of BMPs with currently known mutual orbits. We find that BMPs are typically highly inclined relative to their orbit around the Sun, with a distribution consistent with an isotropic distribution. BMPs not affected by tidal forces are found to have high eccentricities with non-thermal eccentricity distribution peaking at intermediate eccentricities (typically 0.4-0.6). The high inclinations and eccentricities of the BMPs suggest that BMPs evolved in a dense collisional environment, in which gravitational encounters in addition to tidal and secular Kozai effects played an important role in their orbital evolution.