Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Is Planet Nine a Scattered Giant From the Inner Solar System?

Making Planet Nine: A Scattered Giant in the Outer Solar System


Bromley et al


Correlations in the orbits of several minor planets in the outer solar system suggest the presence of a remote, massive Planet Nine. With at least ten times the mass of the Earth and a perihelion well beyond 100 AU, Planet Nine poses a challenge to planet formation theory. Here we expand on a scenario in which the planet formed closer to the Sun and was gravitationally scattered by Jupiter or Saturn onto a very eccentric orbit in an extended gaseous disk. Dynamical friction with the gas then allowed the planet to settle in the outer solar system. We explore this possibility with a set of numerical simulations. Depending on how the gas disk evolves, scattered super-Earths or small gas giants settle on a range of orbits, with perihelion distances as large as 300 AU. Massive disks that clear from the inside out on million-year time scales yield orbits that allow a super-Earth or gas giant to shepherd the minor planets as observed. A massive planet can achieve a similar orbit in a persistent, low-mass disk over the lifetime of the solar system.

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