Journal Article

The Solar system’s post‐main‐sequence escape boundary

Dimitri Veras and Mark C. Wyatt

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 421, issue 4, pages 2969-2981
Published in print April 2012 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI:
The Solar system’s post‐main‐sequence escape boundary

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The Sun will eventually lose about half of its current mass non‐linearly over several phases of post‐main‐sequence evolution. This mass loss will cause any surviving orbiting body to increase its semimajor axis and perhaps vary its eccentricity. Here, we use a range of solar models spanning plausible evolutionary sequences and assume isotropic mass loss to assess the possibility of escape from the Solar system. We find that the critical semimajor axis in the Solar system within which an orbiting body is guaranteed to remain bound to the dying Sun due to perturbations from stellar mass loss alone is ≈103–104 au. The fate of objects near or beyond this critical semimajor axis, such as the Oort Cloud, outer scattered disc and specific bodies such as Sedna, will significantly depend on their locations along their orbits when the Sun turns off the main sequence. These results are applicable to any exoplanetary system containing a single star with a mass, metallicity and age which are approximately equal to the Sun’s, and suggest that few extrasolar Oort Clouds could survive post‐main‐sequence evolution intact.

Keywords: minor planets, asteroids: general; Oort Cloud; planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability; planet–star interactions; stars: AGB and post‐AGB; stars: evolution

Journal Article.  9323 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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