One of the first stages of planet formation is the growth of small planetesimals and their accumulation into large planetesimals and planetary embryos. This early stage occurs long before the dispersal of most of the gas from the protoplanetary disk. At this stage gas-planetesimal interactions play a key role in the dynamical evolution of single intermediate-mass planetesimals (mp ∼ 1021-1025 g) through gas dynamical friction (GDF). A significant fraction of all solar system planetesimals (asteroids and Kuiper-belt objects) are known to be binary planetesimals (BPs). Here, we explore the effects of GDF on the evolution of BPs embedded in a gaseous disk using an N-body code with a fiducial external force accounting for GDF. We find that GDF can induce binary mergers on timescales shorter than the disk lifetime for masses above mp ≳ 1022 g at 1 au, independent of the binary initial separation and eccentricity. Such mergers can affect the structure of merger-formed planetesimals, and the GDF-induced binary inspiral can play a role in the evolution of the planetesimal disk. In addition, binaries on eccentric orbits around the star may evolve in the supersonic regime, where the torque reverses and the binary expands, which would enhance the cross section for planetesimal encounters with the binary. Highly inclined binaries with small mass ratios, evolve due to the combined effects of Kozai-Lidov (KL) cycles with GDF which lead to chaotic evolution. Prograde binaries go through semi-regular KL evolution, while retrograde binaries frequently flip their inclination and ∼50% of them are destroyed.
- minor planets, asteroids: general
- planetary systems
- planetdisk interactions
- planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability
- planets and satellites: formation
- protoplanetary disks