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Published August 2002 | Accepted Version + Published
Journal Article Open

Long-Term Dynamics and the Orbital Inclinations of the Classical Kuiper Belt Objects


We numerically integrated the orbits of 1458 particles in the region of the classical Kuiper belt (41 AU ≤ a ≤ 47 AU) to explore the role of dynamical instabilities in sculpting the inclination distribution of the classical Kuiper belt objects (KBOs). We find that the selective removal of low-inclination objects by overlapping secular resonances (ν_(17) and ν_(18)) acts to raise the mean inclination of the surviving population of particles over 4 billion yr of interactions with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, though these long-term dynamical effects do not themselves appear to explain the discovery of KBOs with inclinations near 30°. Our integrations also imply that after 3 billion yr of interaction with the massive planets, high-inclination KBOs more efficiently supply Neptune-encountering objects, the likely progenitors of short-period comets, Centaurs, and scattered KBOs. The secular resonances at low inclinations may indirectly cause this effect by weeding out objects unprotected by mean motion resonances during the first 3 billion yr.

Additional Information

© 2002 American Astronomical Society. Received 2002 January 7; accepted 2002 May 3. Thanks to Edo Berger, John-Philippe Berger, John Cartwright, Roy Gal, Richard Ellis, Brian Jacoby, Ken Jucks, David Kaplan, Robert Kirshner, David Latham, Lori Lubin, Brian Mason, Mark Metzger, Rafael Milan-Gabet, Irene Porro, Nick Scoville, Patrick Shopbell, John Sievers, Wesley Traub, Pat Udomprasert, and Bill Wyatt for donating CPU time for this project. Thanks to Hal Levison, Scott Kenyon, and Ed Thommes for helpful discussions. This work was performed in part under contract with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory through the Michelson Fellowship program funded by NASA as an element of the Planet Finder Program. JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology.

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Published - 1538-3881_124_2_1221.pdf

Accepted Version - 0206260.pdf


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