Astrophysics and Space Science

, 362:198 | Cite as

Binary stripping as a plausible origin of correlated pairs of extreme trans-Neptunian objects

  • C. de la Fuente MarcosEmail author
  • R. de la Fuente Marcos
  • S. J. Aarseth
Original Article


Asteroids that follow similar orbits may have a dynamical connection as their current paths could be the result of a past interaction with a massive perturber. The pair of extreme trans-Neptunian objects or ETNOs (474640) 2004 VN112–2013 RF98 exhibits peculiar relative orbital properties, including a difference in longitude of the ascending node of just 1\(\stackrel {\circ }{\text{.}}\)61 and 3\(\stackrel {\circ }{\text{.}}\)99 in inclination. In addition, their reflectance spectra are similar in the visible portion of the spectrum. The origin of these similarities remains unclear. Neglecting observational bias, viable scenarios that could explain this level of coincidence include fragmentation and binary dissociation. Here, we present results of extensive direct \(N\)-body simulations of close encounters between wide binary ETNOs and one trans-Plutonian planet. We find that wide binary ETNOs can dissociate during such interactions and the relative orbital properties of the resulting unbound couples match reasonably well those of several pairs of known ETNOs, including 474640–2013 RF98. The possible presence of former binaries among the known ETNOs has strong implications for the interpretation of the observed anisotropies in the distributions of the directions of their orbital poles and perihelia.


Oort Cloud Kuiper belt Celestial mechanics Minor planets, asteroids: general Minor planets, asteroids: individual: (474640) 2004 VN112 Minor planets, asteroids: individual: 2013 RF98 



We thank the referee, J.A. Fernández, for a critical, constructive and helpful review, an anonymous referee for another review, and J. de León, J.-M. Petit, M.T. Bannister, D.P. Whitmire, G. Carraro, D. Fabrycky, A.V. Tutukov, S. Mashchenko, S. Deen and J. Higley for comments on ETNOs and trans-Plutonian planets. This work was partially supported by the Spanish ‘Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad’ (MINECO) under grant ESP2014-54243-R. CdlFM and RdlFM thank A.I. Gómez de Castro, I. Lizasoain and L. Hernández Yáñez of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) for providing access to computing facilities. Part of the calculations and the data analysis were completed on the EOLO cluster of the UCM, and CdlFM and RdlFM thank S. Cano Alsúa for his help during this stage. EOLO, the HPC of Climate Change of the International Campus of Excellence of Moncloa, is funded by the MECD and MICINN. This is a contribution to the CEI Moncloa. In preparation of this paper, we made use of the NASA Astrophysics Data System, the ASTRO-PH e-print server and the MPC data server.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Institute of AstronomyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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