Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 49-62

First online:

Resonant and Secular Families of the Kuiper Belt

  • E. I. ChiangAffiliated withUniversity of California at
  • , J. R. LoveringAffiliated withUniversity of California at
  • , R. L. MillisAffiliated withLowell Observatory
  • , M. W. BuieAffiliated withLowell Observatory
  • , L. H. WassermanAffiliated withLowell Observatory
  • , K. J. MeechAffiliated withInstitute for Astronomy

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We review ongoing efforts to identify occupants of mean-motion resonances(MMRs) and collisional families in the Edgeworth–Kuiper belt. Directintegrations of trajectories of Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) reveal the 1:1(Trojan), 5:4, 4:3, 3:2 (Plutino), 5:3, 7:4, 9:5, 2:1 (Twotino), and 5:2 MMRsto be inhabited. Apart from the Trojan, resonant KBOs typically have largeorbital eccentricities and inclinations. The observed pattern of resonanceoccupation is consistent with resonant capture and adiabatic excitation bya migratory Neptune; however, the dynamically cold initial conditions priorto resonance sweeping that are typically assumed by migration simulationsare probably inadequate. Given the dynamically hot residents of the 5:2 MMRand the substantial inclinations observed in all exterior MMRs, a fraction ofthe primordial belt was likely dynamically pre-heated prior to resonancesweeping. A pre-heated population may have arisen as Neptune gravitationallyscattered objects into trans-Neptunian space. The spatial distribution of Twotinosoffers a unique diagnostic of Neptune's migration history. The Neptunian Trojanpopulation may rival the Jovian Trojan population, and the former's existence isargued to rule out violent orbital histories for Neptune. Finally, lowest-order seculartheory is applied to several hundred non-resonant KBOs with well-measured orbitsto update proposals of collisional families. No convincing family is detected.