author={Scott J. Kenyon and Benjamin C. Bromley},
  journal={The Astronomical Journal},
Motivated by the New Horizons mission, we consider how Pluto's small satellites—currently Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra—grow in debris from the giant impact that forms the Pluto–Charon binary. After the impact, Pluto and Charon accrete some of the debris and eject the rest from the binary orbit. During the ejection, high-velocity collisions among debris particles produce a collisional cascade, leading to the ejection of some debris from the system and enabling the remaining debris particles to… 


Pluto's system of five known satellites is in a puzzling orbital configuration. Each of the four small satellites are on low-eccentricity and low-inclination orbits situated near a mean motion

On the Early In Situ Formation of Pluto’s Small Satellites

The formation of Pluto’s small satellites—Styx, Nix, Keberos, and Hydra—remains a mystery. Their orbits are nearly circular and are near mean-motion resonances and nearly coplanar with Charon’s

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


We consider the formation of satellites around the Pluto–Charon binary. An early collision between the two partners likely produced the binary and a narrow ring of debris, out of which arose the

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

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

A Pluto–Charon Sonata. III. Growth of Charon from a Circum-Pluto Ring of Debris

Current theory considers two options for the formation of the Pluto–Charon binary. In the hit-and-run model, a lower mass projectile barely hits the more massive Pluto, kicks up some debris, and

A Pluto–Charon Sonata: The Dynamical Architecture of the Circumbinary Satellite System

Using a large suite of n-body simulations, we explore the discovery space for new satellites in the Pluto–Charon system. For the adopted masses and orbits of the known satellites, there are few

Astronomy: Pluto leads the way in planet formation

Perturbations by the other bodies inject chaos into this otherwise stable configuration so that Nix and Hydra rotate chaotically, driven by the large torques of the Pluto–Charon binary.

On the origin of Pluto’s small satellites by resonant transport



Dynamical capture in the Pluto–Charon system

This paper explores the possibility that the progenitors of the small satellites of Pluto got captured in the Pluto–Charon system from the massive heliocentric planetesimal disk in which Pluto was

Formation of the Galilean Satellites: Conditions of Accretion

We examine formation conditions for the Galilean satellites in the context of models of late-stage giant planet accretion and satellite-disk interactions. We first reevaluate the current standard, in

Collisional Cascades in Planetesimal Disks. I. Stellar Flybys

We use a new multiannulus planetesimal accretion code to investigate the evolution of a planetesimal disk following a moderately close encounter with a passing star. The calculations include

A giant impact origin for Pluto's small moons and satellite multiplicity in the Kuiper belt

It is argued that dust–ice rings of variable optical depths form sporadically in the Pluto system, and that rich satellite systems may be found—perhaps frequently—around other large Kuiper belt objects.

Orbital migrations in planetesimal discs: N-body simulations and the resonant dynamical friction

ABSTRA C T We have performed N-body numerical simulations of the exchange of angular momentum between a massive planet and a 3D Keplerian disc of planetesimals. Our interest is directed at the study

The recent formation of Saturn's moonlets from viscous spreading of the main rings

A hybrid simulation is reported in which the viscous spreading of Saturn’s rings beyond the Roche limit (the distance beyond which the rings are gravitationally unstable) gives rise to the small moons.

Collisional evolution of irregular satellite swarms: detectable dust around Solar system and extrasolar planets

Since the 1980s it has been becoming increasingly clear that the Solar system’s irregular satellites are collisionally evolved. The current populations are remnants of much more massive swarms that

Formation of Kuiper-belt binaries by dynamical friction and three-body encounters

It is shown that a transient binary forms when two large bodies penetrate one another's Hill sphere (the region where their mutual forces are larger than the tidal force of the Sun) and the loss of energy needed to stabilize the binary orbit can occur through dynamical friction from surrounding small bodies, or through the gravitational scattering of a third large body.