Aims. Our aim was to investigate the formation of binary systems via gravitational collapse, considering a wider range of binary masses than previous studies. We analysed in detail the properties of the bound systems that are formed and compared them to observations.
Methods. We performed $N$-body simulations of gravitational collapse of a pebble cloud using the \rebound package, with an integrator designed for rotating reference frames and robust collision detection. We conducted a deep search for gravitationally bound particles at the end of the gravitational collapse phase and tested their stability. For all systems produced, not just the most massive binaries, we investigated the population characteristics of their mass and orbital parameters.
Results. We found that gravitational collapse is an efficient producer of bound planetesimal systems. On average there were $\sim1.5$ bound systems produced per cloud, in the mass range studied here. As well as the large, equal-sized binaries, we found that gravitational collapse produces massive bodies with small satellites and low mass binaries with a high mass ratio. Gravitational collapse can create binary systems analogous to Arrokoth and collisions in a collapsing cloud should be gentle enough to preserve a bi-lobed structure.
- Kuiper belt: general
- Minor planets, asteroids: general
- Planets and satellites: formation
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Investigating Gravitational Collapse of a Pebble Cloud to form Transneptunian Binaries: Supplementary Animation
Robinson, J. (Creator), Queen's University Belfast, 05 May 2020
Robinson, J., Jul 2020
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis › Doctor of PhilosophyFile