Caltech Logo

Dix Planetary Science Seminar

Tuesday, January 29, 2019
4:00pm to 5:00pm
Add to Cal
South Mudd 365
The Sizes of Kuiper Belt Objects
Yanqin Wu, Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics, Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto,

Kuiper Belt Objects are often touted as fossil records of the early Solar
System. So what can we learn from them? Here I will discuss one important
aspect, their primordial size distribution: is it top-heavy with most of
the initial mass absorbed into large bodies like Pluto, or is it
bottom-heavy with most of the mass locked into km-sized boulders and only
a minute fraction running away to form Plutos?

These two models assume different conditions in the early Solar system,
rely on different dynamical processes, and make different predictions for
a multitude of observables. These include, e.g., the outward migration of
Neptune, crater counts on Pluto, new comets from the Oort cloud, ... and,
further afield, the looks of extra-solar debris disks. This talk will
feature tidal disruption events, but not, planet 9.