Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 459-470

First online:

A Widebinary Solar Companion as a Possible Origin of Sedna-like Objects

  • John J. MateseAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Louisiana Email author 
  • , Daniel P. WhitmireAffiliated withDepartment of Physics, University of Louisiana
  • , Jack J. LissauerAffiliated withSpace Science and Astrobiology Division, MS 245-3, NASA Ames Research Center

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Sedna is the first inner Oort cloud object to be discovered. Its dynamical origin remains unclear, and a possible mechanism is considered here. We investigate the parameter space of a hypothetical solar companion which could adiabatically detach the perihelion of a Neptune-dominated TNO with a Sedna-like semimajor axis. Demanding that the TNO’s maximum value of osculating perihelion exceed Sedna’s observed value of 76 AU, we find that the companion’s mass and orbital parameters (m c , a c , q c , Q c , i c ) are restricted to

$$m_c>rapprox 5\hskip.25em\hbox{M}_{\rm J}\left(\frac{Q_c}{7850\hbox{ AU}} \frac{q_c}{7850\hbox{ AU}}\right)^{3/2}$$

during the epoch of strongest perturbations. The ecliptic inclination of the companion should be in the range \(45{\deg}\lessapprox i_c\lessapprox 135{\deg}\) if the TNO is to retain a small inclination while its perihelion is increased. We also consider the circumstances where the minimum value of osculating perihelion would pass the object to the dynamical dominance of Saturn and Jupiter, if allowed. It has previously been argued that an overpopulated band of outer Oort cloud comets with an anomalous distribution of orbital elements could be produced by a solar companion with present parameter values

$$m_c\approx 5\hskip.25em\hbox{M}_{\rm J}\left(\frac{9000\hbox{ AU}}{a_c}\right)^{1/2}.$$

If the same hypothetical object is responsible for both observations, then it is likely recorded in the IRAS and possibly the 2MASS databases.


Kuiper Belt Oort Cloud comets:2003 VB12 comets:general binaries:general