Skip to comments.Stellar encounters as the origin of distant Solar System objects in highly eccentric orbits
Posted on 12/02/2004 4:51:41 PM PST by nicollo
If you can make sense of it, here's the article:
Stellar encounters as the origin of distant Solar System objects in highly eccentric orbits
SCOTT J. KENYON AND BENJAMIN C. BROMLEY
The Kuiper belt extends from the orbit of Neptune at 30 AU to an abrupt outer edge about 50 AU from the Sun. Beyond the edge is a sparse population of objects with large orbital eccentricities. Neptune shapes the dynamics of most Kuiper belt objects, but the recently discovered planet 2003 VB12 (Sedna) has an eccentric orbit with a perihelion distance of 70 AU, far beyond Neptune's gravitational influence. Although influences from passing stars could have created the Kuiper belt's outer edge and could have scattered objects into large, eccentric orbits, no model currently explains the properties of Sedna. Here we show that a passing star probably scattered Sedna from the Kuiper belt into its observed orbit. The likelihood that a planet at 6080 AU can be scattered into Sedna's orbit is about 50 per cent; this estimate depends critically on the geometry of the fly-by. Even more interesting is the 10 per cent chance that Sedna was captured from the outer disk of the passing star. Most captures have very high inclination orbits; detection of such objects would confirm the presence of extrasolar planets in our own Solar System.
Sorry, Nature is a subscribe-only website. The article is in the issue released today, and it has been featured in many newspapers and TV/Radio broadcasts, among which include:
Sun Might Have Exchanged Hangers-On With Rival Star (NY Times)
Sun may have captured millions of asteroids (Times of India, based on the NY Times article)
Did close encounter shape solar system? (MSNBC, with video link)
Two young stars scuffle: Stand back CSI, the astronomers of CfA may have solved a mystery of cosmic proportions. (Astronomy Magazine)
Interview with Dr. Bromley: The World Today - 'Alien' worlds invade solar system (ABC.net Australia site)
Study Paints Our Sun as a Planet Thief (Scientific American)
Study says our solar system may co-mingle with others (Pasadena Star News)
Is planetoid an alien world? (Deseret News -- Utah)
Heh you physics types... here's the MSM reaction to my bro's Nature article/press release that I pinged y'all about yesterday.
Hope you enjoy it!
I thought we already knew that.(?)
Congrats to your brother.
Thanks for posting it. And tell your brother to get registered on this website. Lotta non-science and anti-science types here, as everywhere, but we have a pretty decent cadre of people who appreciate this kind of thing.
Ya got me. I think the big deal here is the computer model that tends to show it. My brother is, among titles and things, a "computational physicist," which until recently was shunned in the profession as mere code-writer. But, as the supercomputers and the "code-writers" have gotten better, their ability to prove/disprove theories has also improved, and computational types have gained in stature.
I don't understand a damned thing in all this, other than my bro is good at math and he gets to play with really, really big computers.
Me, I'm the moron of the family. My sister is a bio-chemist intent on curing cancer. So far, her greatest success has been in bio-tech stocks... that and screaming at kids she sees lighting up, "There's no cure for cancer yet!"
Now, seriously, would you recommend an addictive substance to a sibling? Lol!
I've always, always been amazed at the variety of knowledge of the folks at FR. Put up any-anything, and there'll be someone who knows the sh*t. Truly a fine reflection upon this forum.
Indeed, I'll send him the link here. I don't know if he'll subscribe to the rest of our general views, what in that he lives on Federal grants and believes that physics can solve all problems...
"Put up any-anything, and there'll be someone who knows the sh*t. Truly a fine reflection upon this forum."
I may not know it but I always enjoy the science stuff that gets posted. If it's astronomy, physics, biology, etc I enjoy reading it.
(I do have a weakness for the Uranus humor)
Me, too, I'm a sucker for science that I cannot possibly understand. Always impressed by it.
I gotta say, I have no idea what is the ultimate meaning of this paper. It was spurred, like other studies, by the discovery of the planet, Sedna, and its odd orbit. My brother got involved because he's studied and modelled planet formation. I think that's his advantage over other observers of Sedna.
Btw, great screen name!
Yes, the reason that the theory is derided is that there is no place left for a companion to hide. With the advent of all-sky infrared surveys, we've looked everywhere there is to look. As an object big enough to do that kind of damage would radiate pretty brightly in the IR, it's definite that there is no stellar companion orbiting the Sun of anything nearing even the size of Uranus out there.
In a nutshell, it means that Sedna's existance in that particular location is an aberration--there is likely no model of solar system formation that will account for it being where it is, so given that fact, it examines the likelihood of a Sun-Star encounter leaving the matter that became Sedna, or Sedna itself in it's particular orbit.
I know the feeling. My son has a PhD in physics.
Thanks for the ping!
Interesting that capture of planets is possible. There are probably planets all the way to the next star and it might be hard to say which star some of them belong to. There could also be planets sailing through space at high speed that belong to no star anymore. One of those could fly through the solar system at any time and there would be no warning. It could even hit something with energy far in excess of any asteroid hit that comes from within the solar system.
PH, thanks for the ping.
nicollo, thanks for the post and congrats to your brother. Nothing like seeing your work in print.
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