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Implications of the interstellar object 1I/'Oumuamua for planetary dynamics and planetesimal formation

TitleImplications of the interstellar object 1I/'Oumuamua for planetary dynamics and planetesimal formation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsRaymond, SN, Armitage, PJ, Veras, D, Quintana, EV, Barclay, T
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Pagination3031 - 3038
Date Published2018-02

’Oumuamua, the first bona fide interstellar planetesimal, was discovered passing through our Solar system on a hyperbolic orbit. This object was likely dynamically ejected from an extrasolar planetary system after a series of close encounters with gas giant planets. To account for ’Oumuamua’s detection, simple arguments suggest that ∼1 M⊕ of planetesimals are ejected per solar mass of Galactic stars. However, that value assumes mono-sized planetesimals. If the planetesimal mass distribution is instead top-heavy, the inferred mass in interstellar planetesimals increases to an implausibly high value. The tension between theoretical expectations for the planetesimal mass function and the observation of ’Oumuamua can be relieved if a small fraction (∼0.1−1percent∼0.1−1percent) of planetesimals are tidally disrupted on the pathway to ejection into ’Oumuamua-sized fragments. Using a large suite of simulations of giant planet dynamics including planetesimals, we confirm that 0.1–1 per cent of planetesimals pass within the tidal disruption radius of a gas giant on their pathway to ejection. ’Oumuamua may thus represent a surviving fragment of a disrupted planetesimal. Finally, we argue that an asteroidal composition is dynamically disfavoured for ’Oumuamua, as asteroidal planetesimals are both less abundant and ejected at a lower efficiency than cometary planetesimals.