DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 31. Asteroid Dynamics I
Oral, Chairs: W. F. Bottke, Jr. and J. S. Stuart, Friday, September 5, 2003, 10:30am-12:00noon, DeAnza I-II

[Previous] | [Session 31] | [Next]

[31.01] The Fossilized Size Distribution of the Main Asteroid Belt

W.F. Bottke, D. Durda, D. Nesvorny (SwRI), R. Jedicke (U. Hawaii), A. Morbidelli (Obs. Nice)

At present, we do not understand how the main asteroid belt evolved into its current state. During the planet formation epoch, the primordial main belt (PMB) contained several Earth masses of material, enough to allow the asteroids to accrete on relatively short timescales (e.g., Weidenschilling 1977). The present-day main belt, however, only contains 5e-4 Earth masses of material (Petit et al. 2002). Constraints on this evolution come from (i) the observed fragments of differentiated asteroids, (ii) meteorites collected from numerous differentiated parent bodies, (iii) the presence of ~10 prominent asteroid families, (iv) the "wavy" size-frequency distribution of the main belt, which has been shown to be a by-product of substantial collisional evolution (e.g., Durda et al. 1997), and (v) the still-intact crust of (4) Vesta.

To explain the contradictions in the above constraints, we suggest the PMB evolved in this fashion: Planetesimals and planetary embryos accreted (and differentiated) in the PMB during the first few Myr of the solar system. Gravitational perturbations from these embryos dynamically stirred the main belt, enough to initiate fragmentation. When Jupiter reached its full size, some 10 Myr after the solar system's birth, its perturbations, together with those of the embryos, dynamically depleted the main belt region of ~ 99% of its bodies. Much of this material was sent to high (e,i) orbits, where it continued to pummel the surviving main belt bodies at high impact velocities for more than 100 Myr. While some differentiated bodies in the PMB were disrupted, most were instead scattered; only small fragments from this population remain. This period of comminution and dynamical evolution in the PMB created, among other things, the main belt's wavy size distribution, such that it can be considered a "fossil" from this violent early epoch. From this time forward, however, relatively little collisional evolution has taken place in the main belt, consistent with the surprising paucity of prominent asteroid families. Preliminary modeling results of this scenario and implications will be presented.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: bottke@boulder.swri.edu

[Previous] | [Session 31] | [Next]

Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.