Was The Sun Born In A Massive Cluster?

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The log of the probability of a close encounter exciting each Jovian planet's eccentricity to greater than 0.1 as a function of cluster mass Mc and surface density Σc

Donald Dukes, Mark R. Krumholz
A number of authors have argued that the Sun must have been born in a cluster of no more than about 1000 stars, on the basis that, in a larger cluster, close encounters between the Sun and other stars would have truncated the outer Solar System or excited the outer planets into eccentric orbits. However, this dynamical limit is in tension with meteoritic evidence that the Solar System was exposed to a nearby supernova during or shortly after its formation; a 1000-star cluster is much too small for supernova contamination to be likely. In this paper we revisit the dynamical limit in the light of improved observations of the properties of young clusters. We use a series of scattering simulations to measure the velocity-dependent cross-section for disruption of the outer Solar System by stellar encounters, and use this cross-section to compute the probability of a disruptive encounter as a function of birth cluster properties. We find that, contrary to prior work, the probability of disruption is small regardless of the cluster mass, and that it actually decreases rather than increases with cluster mass. Our results differ from prior work for three main reasons: (1) unlike in most previous work, we compute a velocity-dependent cross section and properly integrate over the cluster mass-dependent velocity distribution of incoming stars; (2) we adopt realistically-short cluster lifetimes of a few crossing times, rather than assuming lifetimes of 10 to 100 Myr; and (3) following recent observations, we adopt a mass-independent surface density for embedded clusters, rather than a mass-independent radius as assumed many earlier papers. Our results remove the tension between the dynamical limit and the meteoritic evidence, and suggest that the Sun was born in a massive cluster….
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Written by physicsgg

November 17, 2011 at 6:49 am


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