Over the last decade, evidence has mounted that the solar system's observed state can be favorably reproduced in the context of an instability-driven dynamical evolution model, such as the "Nice" model. To date, all successful realizations of instability models have concentrated on evolving the four giant planets onto their current orbits from a more compact configuration. Simultaneously, the possibility of forming and ejecting additional planets has been discussed, but never successfully implemented. Here we show that a large array of five-planet (two gas giants + three ice giants) multi-resonant initial states can lead to an adequate formation of the outer solar system, featuring an ejection of an ice giant during a phase of instability. Particularly, our simulations demonstrate that the eigenmodes that characterize the outer solar system's secular dynamics can be closely matched with a five-planet model. Furthermore, provided that the ejection timescale of the extra planet is short, orbital excitation of a primordial cold classical Kuiper Belt can also be avoided in this scenario. Thus, the solar system is one of many possible outcomes of dynamical relaxation and can originate from a wide variety of initial states. This deems the construction of a unique model of solar system's early dynamical evolution impossible.
The Astrophysical Journal
- Pub Date:
- January 2012
- Kuiper Belt: general;
- planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 5 pages, 3 figures, accepted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters