Embedded star clusters and the formation of the Oort cloud. III. Evolution of the inner cloud during the Galactic phase
In a previous publication [Brasser, R., Duncan, M.J., Levison, H.F., 2006. Icarus 184, 59-82], models of the inner Oort cloud were built which included the effect of an embedded star cluster on cometary orbits about the Sun. The main conclusions of that paper were that the formation efficiency is about 10% and the median distance of the cloud to the Sun only depends on the mean density of gas and stars the Sun encountered. Here we report on the results of simulations which followed the ensuing dynamical evolution of these comet clouds in the current Galactic environment once the Sun left the embedded star cluster. The goal is to determine whether or not the dynamical influence of passing Galactic field stars and the Galactic tidal field is sufficient to replenish the current outer cloud (semi-major axis a>20,000 AU) with enough material from the inner cloud ( a<20,000 AU). Since visible new comets come directly from the outer cloud, a mass estimate only exists for the latter, with a lower limit of 1 M [Francis, P.J., 2005. Astrophys. J. 635, 1348-1361]. Knowing the amount of expansion of the inner cloud may therefore yield an estimate of the mass of said (unseen) inner cloud. Our results indicate that typically only 10% of the comets from the inner cloud land in the outer cloud and are bound after 4.5 Gyr. If one assumes that in the extreme case all or the majority of the current population of the outer cloud has come from the inner cloud, then a typical value of the mass of the inner cloud is about 10 M. The results of [Brasser, R., Duncan, M.J., Levison, H.F., 2006. Icarus 184, 59-82] showed that ∼10% of comets from the Jupiter-Saturn region were implanted in the inner Oort cloud, which implies an uncomfortably large value of about 100 M for the mass of solids in the primordial Jupiter-Saturn region. This extreme case might be remedied in two says: either the effect of Giant Molecular Cloud complexes on the inner Oort cloud must be much more severe than originally thought, or there was a two-stage formation process for the Oort cloud, in which the outer cloud was largely populated by comets scattered once the Sun had left its primordial birth cluster.