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[en] We have analyzed the first 3.75 years of data from the Taiwanese American Occultation Survey (TAOS). TAOS monitors bright stars to search for occultations by Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs). This data set comprises 5 x 105 star hours of multi-telescope photometric data taken at 4 or 5 Hz. No events consistent with KBO occultations were found in this data set. We compute the number of events expected for the Kuiper Belt formation and evolution models of Pan and Sari, Kenyon and Bromley, Benavidez and Campo Bagatin, and Fraser. A comparison with the upper limits we derive from our data constrains the parameter space of these models. This is the first detailed comparison of models of the KBO size distribution with data from an occultation survey. Our results suggest that the KBO population is composed of objects with low internal strength and that planetary migration played a role in the shaping of the size distribution.
[en] This chapter discusses some of the main effects of the interaction of planets with remnant planetesimal disks, after the disappearance of the gas. It focuses on planet migration and its possible outcomes. In particular, we discuss the possibility that the migration of the planets leads them into an unstable configuration which changes drastically the structure of the system. The late heavy bombardment (LHB) of the terrestrial planets, occurring 650 Myr after planet formation, is a strong indication that this kind of evolution occurred in our solar system. Other stars show evidence of intense comet showers, which may indicate that LHB-analogs are ongoing in those systems at the current time
[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] Estimates of the size distribution of Main Belt asteroids suggest that there is an undetected population of approximately 10 trillion objects in the meter-to kilometer-range. These small objects are highly diverse impact generated fragments of ancient asteroids. This vast and so far unexplored resource of small bodies holds a rich variety of information on the origin and evolution of our Solar System. Current Earth-based telescopes have, with a few exceptions, not been able to detect the faint and distant meter-sized asteroids in the Main Belt. Deep exposures cannot be used, unless the object can be tracked, which is not possible for an object in an unknown orbit. Small asteroids can be observed close up from a spacecraft but, so far, missions to the Main Belt have not had the ability to detect new small asteroids (with the exception of Dactyl, the kilometer-sized asteroid, that was found orbiting the much larger asteroid Ida). Due to the rapidly changing geometry, small asteroids can only be observed from a spacecraft for a very limited time, hence it is not possible to operate a spacecraft from the distant Earth and a fully autonomous mission is required. The technology required to build such spacecrafts does exist and has been tested in space. We have explored the scientific potential of deep space missions to detect and study small asteroids from spacecrafts traveling through the asteroid Main Belt
[en] The current concepts of the origin and evolution of the Solar System are discussed, and some notions about extrasolar planets are reviewed. The present status of and future prospects for space exploration in Russia and abroad are examined. (conferences and symposia)
[en] We perform numerical simulations to study the secular orbital evolution and dynamical structure of the quintuplet planetary system 55 Cancri with the self-consistent orbital solutions by Fischer and coworkers. In the simulations, we show that this system can be stable for at least 108 yr. In addition, we extensively investigate the planetary configuration of four outer companions with one terrestrial planet in the wide region of 0.790 AU ≤ a ≤ 5.900 AU to examine the existence of potential asteroid structure and Habitable Zones (HZs). We show that there are unstable regions for orbits about 4:1, 3:1 and 5:2 mean motion resonances (MMRs) of the outermost planet in the system, and several stable orbits can remain at 3:2 and 1:1 MMRs, which resembles the asteroid belt in the solar system. From a dynamical viewpoint, proper HZ candidates for the existence of more potential terrestrial planets reside in the wide area between 1.0 AU and 2.3 AU with relatively low eccentricities. (research paper)
[en] Numerical simulations of accretion of planetary embryos from small planetesimals are described. In the terrestrial region, runaway growth proceeds as a wave propagating outward, producing an 'oligarchy' of embryos. The efficiency of accretion, i.e. the mass loss due to fragmentation, depends on the initial size of the planetesimals. In the outer region of the disk, the growth of embryos is not a localized process. At larger heliocentric distances, gravitational scattering and long-range perturbations become more significant, and tend to inhibit runaway growth
[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] The origin of the high inclination of Uranus' spin-axis (Uranus' obliquity) is one of the great unanswered questions about the solar system. Giant planets are believed to form with nearly zero obliquity, and it has been shown that the present behavior of Uranus' spin is essentially stable. Several attempts were made in order to solve this problem. Here we report numerical simulations showing that Uranus' axis can be tilted during the planetary migration, without the need of a giant impact, provided that the planet had an additional satellite and a temporary large inclination. This might have happened during the giant planet instability phase described in the Nice model. In our scenario, the satellite is ejected after the tilt by a close encounter at the end of the migration. This model can both explain Uranus' large obliquity and bring new constraints on the planet orbital evolution.