Modern studies of the early solar system routinely invoke the possibility of an orbital instability among the giant planets triggered by gravitational interactions between the planets and a massive exterior disk of planetesimals. Previous works have suggested that this instability can be substantially delayed (about hundreds of megayears) after the formation of the giant planets. Bodies in the disk are typically treated in a semi-active manner, wherein their gravitational force on the planets is included, but interactions between the planetesimals are ignored. We perform N-body numerical simulations using GENGA, which makes use of GPUs to allow for the inclusion of all gravitational interactions between bodies. Although our simulated Kuiper Belt particles are more massive than the probable masses of real primordial Kuiper Belt objects, our simulations indicate that the self-stirring of the primordial Kuiper Belt is very important to the dynamics of the giant planet instability. We find that interactions between planetesimals dynamically heat the disk and typically prevent the outer solar system’s instability from being delayed by more than a few tens of megayears after giant planet formation. Longer delays occur in a small fraction of systems that have at least 3.5 au gaps between the planets and planetesimal disk. Our final planetary configurations match the solar system at a rate consistent with other previous works in most regards. Pre-instability heating of the disk typically yields final Jovian eccentricities comparable to the modern solar system’s value, which has been a difficult constraint to match in past works.
The Astronomical Journal
- Pub Date:
- February 2019
- planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability;
- planets and satellites: formation;
- Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
- 16 pages, 17 figures, 3 tables