Will new horizons see dust clumps in the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt?
VITENSE C., KRIVOV A.V. and LOHNE T.
Abstract (from CDS):
Debris disks are thought to be sculptured by neighboring planets. The same is true for the Edgeworth-Kuiper debris disk, yet no direct observational evidence for signatures of giant planets in the Kuiper Belt dust distribution has been found so far. Here we model the dust distribution in the outer solar system to reproduce the dust impact rates onto the dust detector on board the New Horizons spacecraft measured so far and to predict the rates during the Neptune orbit traverse. To this end, we take a realistic distribution of trans-Neptunian objects to launch a sufficient number of dust grains of different sizes and follow their orbits by including radiation pressure, Poynting-Robertson and stellar wind drag, as well as the perturbations of four giant planets. In a subsequent statistical analysis, we calculate number densities and lifetimes of the dust grains in order to simulate a collisional cascade. In contrast to the previous work, our model not only considers collisional elimination of particles but also includes production of finer debris. We find that particles captured in the 3:2 resonance with Neptune build clumps that are not removed by collisions, because the depleting effect of collisions is counteracted by production of smaller fragments. Our model successfully reproduces the dust impact rates measured by New Horizons out to ~23 AU and predicts an increase of the impact rate of about a factor of two or three around the Neptune orbit crossing. This result is robust with respect to the variation of the vaguely known number of dust-producing scattered disk objects, collisional outcomes, and the dust properties.