Thursday, August 11, 2016

There are an Estimated 2600 to 3800 Kuiper Belt Objects Beyond 50 AU

The orbital distribution of trans-Neptunian objects beyond 50 au


Nesvorny et al

 The dynamical structure of the Kuiper belt beyond 50 au is not well understood. Here we report results of a numerical model with long-range, slow and grainy migration of Neptune. The model implies that bodies scattered outward by Neptune to semimajor axes a>50 au often evolve into resonances which subsequently act to raise the perihelion distances of orbits to q>40 au. The implication of the model is that the orbits with 5040 au should cluster near (but not in) the resonances with Neptune (3:1 at a=62.6 au, 4:1 at a=75.9 au, 5:1 at a=88.0 au, etc.). The recent detection of several distant Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs) near resonances is consistent with this prediction, but it is not yet clear whether the orbits are really non-resonant as our model predicts. We estimate from the model that there should presently be ~1600-2400 bodies at the 3:1 resonance and ~1000-1400 bodies at the 4:1 resonance (for q>40 au and diameters D>100 km). These results favorably compare with the population census of distant KBOs inferred from existing observations.

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