A Pluto–Charon Concerto: An Impact on Charon as the Origin of the Small Satellites

  title={A Pluto–Charon Concerto: An Impact on Charon as the Origin of the Small Satellites},
  author={Benjamin C. Bromley and Scott J. Kenyon},
  journal={arXiv: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics},
We consider a scenario where the small satellites of Pluto and Charon grew within a disk of debris from an impact between Charon and a trans-Neptunian Object (TNO). After Charon's orbital motion boosts the debris into a disk-like structure, rapid orbital damping of meter-size or smaller objects is essential to prevent the subsequent re-accretion or dynamical ejection by the binary. From analytical estimates and simulations of disk evolution, we estimate an impactor radius of 30-100 km; smaller… 

Figures and Tables from this paper

A Pluto–Charon Concerto. II. Formation of a Circumbinary Disk of Debris after the Giant Impact
Using a suite of numerical calculations, we consider the long-term evolution of circumbinary debris from the Pluto–Charon giant impact. Initially, these solids have large eccentricity and pericenters
Peculiar orbits and asymmetries in extreme trans-Neptunian space
It is still an open question how the Solar system is structured beyond 100 au from the Sun. Our understanding of this vast region remains very limited and only recently we have become aware of the
Craters on Charon: Impactors from a Collisional Cascade Among Trans-Neptunian Objects
We consider whether equilibrium size distributions from collisional cascades match the frequency of impactors derived from New Horizons crater counts on Charon (Singer et al 2019). Using an analytic
On the Estimation of Circumbinary Orbital Properties
We describe a fast, approximate method to characterize the orbits of satellites around a central binary in numerical simulations. A goal is to distinguish the free eccentricity -- random motion of a
On the Origin of the Pluto System
For six decades following its discovery, Pluto was the only known Sun-orbiting world in the dynamical vicinity of Neptune. An early origin concept postulated that Neptune originally had two large
Tidal evolution of the Pluto–Charon binary
A giant collision is believed to be at the origin of the Pluto-Charon system. As a result, the initial orbit and spins after impact may have substantially differed from those observed today. More
Formation, Composition, and History of the Pluto System: A Post-New Horizons Synthesis
The Pluto-Charon system provides a broad variety of constraints on planetary formation, composition, chemistry, and evolution. Pluto was the first body to be discovered in what is now known as the


The Resonant Transneptunian Populations
  • 2012
Cratering erosion of planetary embryos
Abstract I have performed 3D numerical hydrodynamic simulations of impacts of stony projectiles on stony planar targets in a range of impact velocities from 1.25 to 60 km/s. The projectile and target
Ejecta from impact craters
An important feature of impacts into Solar System bodies is the fate of crater ejecta, the near-surface material launched during the highly dynamic crater formation process. Laboratory measurements
Collisions are the core agent of planet formation. In this work, we derive an analytic description of the dynamical outcome for any collision between gravity-dominated bodies. We conduct
Variations on Debris Disks: Icy Planet Formation at 30-150 AU for 1-3 Solar Mass Main Sequence Stars
  • 2008
Analytical model of impact disruption of satellites and asteroids
Abstract A model of impact disruption of the bodies with sizes from the laboratory scale to that of an order of 100 km is developed. On the lowermost end of the target size the model is based on the
The small satellites of Pluto as observed by New Horizons
The New Horizons results on Pluto’s small moons help to elucidate the conditions under which the Pluto system formed and evolved, and massively increase the understanding of the bodies in the outer solar system.
Resonant interactions and chaotic rotation of Pluto’s small moons
It is reported that Styx, Nix and Hydra are tied together by a three-body resonance, which is reminiscent of the Laplace resonance linking Jupiter’s moons Io, Europa and Ganymede.
The orbits and masses of satellites of Pluto
Abstract We present the numerically integrated orbits of Pluto’s satellites. The orbits have been fit to a data set that includes Earth-based and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) astrometry of Charon,
Statistics of encounters in the trans-Neptunian region
The inventory of the populations of trans-Neptunian objects (TNO) has grown considerably over the last decade. As for other groups of small bodies in our solar system, TNOs are expected to have