Origin and dynamical evolution of Neptune Trojans - I. Formation and planetary migration

Lykawka, P. S.; Horner, J.; Jones, B. W. and Mukai, T. (2009). Origin and dynamical evolution of Neptune Trojans - I. Formation and planetary migration. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 398(4) pp. 1715–1729.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15243.x


We present the results of detailed dynamical simulations of the effect of the migration of the four giant planets on both the transport of pre-formed Neptune Trojans and the capture of new Trojans from a trans-Neptunian disc. The cloud of pre-formed Trojans consisted of thousands of massless particles placed on dynamically cold orbits around Neptune's L4 and L5 Lagrange points, while the trans-Neptunian disc contained tens of thousands of such particles spread on dynamically cold orbits between the initial and final locations of Neptune. Through the comparison of the results with the previous work on the known Neptunian Trojans, we find that scenarios involving the slow migration of Neptune over a large distance (50 Myr to migrate from 18.1 au to its current location, using an exponential-folding time of τ= 10 Myr ) provide the best match to the properties of the known Trojans. Scenarios with faster migration (5 Myr, with τ= 1 Myr ), and those in which Neptune migrates from 23.1 au to its current location, fail to adequately reproduce the current-day Trojan population. Scenarios which avoid disruptive perturbation events between Uranus and Neptune fail to yield any significant excitation of pre-formed Trojans (transported with efficiencies between 30 and 98 per cent whilst maintaining the dynamically cold nature of these objects – e < 0.1, i < 5° ). Conversely, scenarios with periods of strong Uranus–Neptune perturbation lead to the almost complete loss of such pre-formed objects. In these cases, a small fraction (∼0.15 per cent) of these escaped objects are later recaptured as Trojans prior to the end of migration, with a wide range of eccentricities (<0.35) and inclinations (<40°) . In all scenarios (including those with such disruptive interaction between Uranus and Neptune), the capture of objects from the trans-Neptunian disc (through which Neptune migrates) is achieved with efficiencies between ∼0.1 and ∼1 per cent. The captured Trojans display a wide range of inclinations ( <40° for slow migration, and <20° for rapid migration) and eccentricities (<0.35), and we conclude that, given the vast amount of material which undoubtedly formed beyond the orbit of Neptune, such captured objects may be sufficient to explain the entire Neptune Trojan population.

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