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The Great Inequality and the Dynamical Disintegration of the Outer Solar System

Zink, Jon K. and Batygin, Konstantin and Adams, Fred C. (2020) The Great Inequality and the Dynamical Disintegration of the Outer Solar System. Astronomical Journal, 160 (5). Art. No. 232. ISSN 1538-3881. doi:10.3847/1538-3881/abb8de.

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Using an ensemble of N-body simulations, this paper considers the fate of the outer gas giants (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune) after the Sun leaves the main sequence and completes its stellar evolution. Due to solar mass loss—which is expected to remove roughly half of the star's mass—the orbits of the giant planets expand. This adiabatic process maintains the orbital period ratios, but the mutual interactions between planets and the width of mean-motion resonances (MMR) increase, leading to the capture of Jupiter and Saturn into a stable 5:2 resonant configuration. The expanded orbits, coupled with the large-amplitude librations of the critical MMR angle, make the system more susceptible to perturbations from stellar flyby interactions. Accordingly, within about 30 Gyr, stellar encounters perturb the planets onto the chaotic subdomain of the 5:2 resonance, triggering a large-scale instability, which culminates in the ejections of all but one planet over the subsequent ~10 Gyr. After an additional ~50 Gyr, a close stellar encounter (with a perihelion distance less than ~200 au) liberates the final planet. Through this sequence of events, the characteristic timescale over which the solar system will be completely dissolved is roughly 100 Gyr. Our analysis thus indicates that the expected dynamical lifetime of the solar system is much longer than the current age of the universe, but is significantly shorter than previous estimates.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Zink, Jon K.0000-0003-1848-2063
Batygin, Konstantin0000-0002-7094-7908
Adams, Fred C.0000-0002-8167-1767
Additional Information:© 2020 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2020 August 18; revised 2020 September 14; accepted 2020 September 14; published 2020 October 29. We would like to thank Kevin Hayakawa for his instructive discussion of long-term N-body simulations. The simulations described here were performed on the UCLA Hoffman2 shared computing cluster and used resources provided by the Bhaumik Institute. K.B. is grateful to the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for their generous support. The work of F.C.A. is supported by in part by NASA grant No. NNX16AB47G and by the University of Michigan.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Alfred P. Sloan FoundationUNSPECIFIED
University of MichiganUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:Dynamical evolution ; Solar system
Issue or Number:5
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Dynamical evolution (421); Solar system (1528)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20201102-090536174
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Official Citation:Jon K. Zink et al 2020 AJ 160 232
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:106376
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:04 Nov 2020 18:33
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:53

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