Tuesday, September 22, 2015

How Dwarf Planets can Heat Kuiper Belts

Dynamical Heating Induced by Dwarf Planets on Cold Kuiper Belt-like Debris Disks


Muñoz-Gutiérrez et al


With the use of long-term numerical simulations, we study the evolution and orbital behavior of cometary nuclei in cold Kuiper belt-like debris disks under the gravitational influence of dwarf planets (DPs); we carry out these simulations with and without the presence of a Neptune-like giant planet. This exploratory study shows that in the absence of a giant planet, 10 DPs are enough to induce strong radial and vertical heating on the orbits of belt particles. On the other hand, the presence of a giant planet close to the debris disk, acts as a stability agent reducing the radial and vertical heating. With enough DPs, even in the presence of a Neptune-like giant planet some radial heating remains; this heating grows steadily, re-filling resonances otherwise empty of cometary nuclei. Specifically for the solar system, this secular process seems to be able to provide material that, through resonant chaotic diffusion, increase the rate of new comets spiraling into the inner planetary system, but only if more than the ∼10 known DP sized objects exist in the trans-Neptunian region.

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