35th Meeting of the AAS Division on Dynamical Astronomy, April 2004
Session 6 Asteroids \& TNOs
Oral, Thursday, April 22, 2004, 2:15-6:50pm,

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[6.04] 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)

The main asteroid belt evolved into its current state via two processes: dynamical depletion and collisional evolution. 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). To explain this mass loss, we suggest the PMB evolved in the following manner: 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-frequency 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. We will show that the constraints provided by asteroid families and the shape of the main belt size distribution are essential to obtaining a unique solution from our model's initial conditions. We also use our model results to solve for the asteroid disruption scaling law Q*D, a critical function needed in all planet formation codes that include fragmentation between rocky planetesimals.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 #2
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.