Asteroid impacts on terrestrial planets: The effects of super-Earths and the role of the ν6 resonance
Smallwood et al
With N-body simulations of a planetary system with an asteroid belt we investigate how the asteroid impact rate on the Earth is affected by the architecture of the planetary system. We find that the ν6 secular resonance plays an important role in the asteroid collision rate with the Earth. Compared to exoplanetary systems, the solar system is somewhat special in its lack of a super-Earth mass planet in the inner solar system. We therefore first consider the effects of the presence of a super-Earth in the terrestrial planet region. We find a significant effect for super-Earths with a mass of around 10M⊕ and a separation greater than about 0.7AU. For a super-Earth that is interior to the Earth's orbit, the number of asteroids colliding with Earth increases the closer the super-Earth is to the Earth's orbit. This is the result of multiple secular resonance locations causing more asteroids to be perturbed onto Earth-crossing orbits. When the super-Earth is placed exterior to Earth's orbit, the collision rate decreases substantially because the ν6 resonance no longer exists in the asteroid belt region. We also find that changing the semi-major axis of Saturn leads to a significant decrease in the asteroid collision rate, while increasing its mass increases the collision rate. These results may have implications for the habitability of exoplanetary systems.