Retention of a Primordial Cold Classical Kuiper Belt in an Instability-Driven Model of Solar System Formation
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.
Additional Information© 2011 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2011 April 10; accepted 2011 June 4; published 2011 August 9. We thank Alessandro Morbidelli, Hal Levison, Darin Ragozzine, and Peter Goldreich for useful conversations.
Published - Batygin2011p15681Astrophys_J.pdf
Accepted Version - 1106.0937.pdf