OSSOS Finds an Exponential Cutoff in the Size Distribution of the Cold Classical Kuiper Belt
AffiliationLunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherAmerican Astronomical Society
CitationKavelaars, J. J., Petit, J.-M., Gladman, B., Bannister, M. T., Alexandersen, M., Chen, Y.-T., Gwyn, S. D. J., & Volk, K. (2021). OSSOS Finds an Exponential Cutoff in the Size Distribution of the Cold Classical Kuiper Belt. Astrophysical Journal Letters.
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
RightsCopyright © 2021. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at email@example.com.
AbstractThe cold main classical Kuiper Belt consists of the nonresonant small solar system bodies with low orbital inclinations and orbital semimajor axes between 42.4 and 47.7 au. These objects likely formed in situ, and the population has experienced minimal collisional modification since formation. Using the Outer Solar System Origins Survey ensemble sample and characterization, combined with constraints from deeper surveys and supported by evidence from the Minor Planet Center catalog and the Deep Ecliptic Survey, we determine the absolute magnitude H r distribution of the cold classical belt from H r ≃ 5 to 12 (roughly diameters of 400-20 km). We conclude that the cold population's H r distribution exhibits an exponential cutoff at large sizes. Exponential cutoffs at large sizes are not a natural outcome of pairwise particle accretion, but exponentially tapered power-law size distributions are a feature of numerical simulations of planetesimal formation via a streaming instability. Our observation of an exponential cutoff agrees with previous observational inferences that no large objects (D ⪆ 400 km) exist in the cold population. We note that the asymptotic slope of the H r distribution is consistent with α ∼ 0.4. This asymptotic slope is also found in streaming instability modeling of planetesimal formation and is thus not necessarily associated with achieving collisional equilibrium. Studies of the trans-Neptunian region are providing the parameters that will enable future streaming-instability studies to determine the initial conditions of planetesimal formation in the ≈45 au region of the Sun's protoplanetary disk. © 2021. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
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