The existence of extremely wide binaries in the low-inclination component of the Kuiper Belt provides a unique handle on the dynamical history of this population. Some popular frameworks of the formation of the Kuiper Belt suggest that planetesimals were moved there from lower semimajor axis orbits by scattering encounters with Neptune. We test the effects such events would have on binary systems and find that wide binaries are efficiently destroyed by the kinds of scattering events required to create the Kuiper Belt with this mechanism. This indicates that a binary-bearing component of the cold Kuiper Belt was emplaced through a gentler mechanism or was formed in situ.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- October 2010
- Kuiper Belt: general;
- planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- Accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. 6 pages, 4 figures