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Binary asteroid scattering around white dwarfs

Presentation #102.02 in the session Dynamics Beyond the Main Sequence.

Published onApr 25, 2022
Binary asteroid scattering around white dwarfs

Observations of metallic pollution in white dwarf atmospheres can only be explained by the recent accretion of rocky material broadly similar in composition to rocky bodies in the Solar System. Further recent observations of transiting planetesimals around white dwarfs in a state of active disruption elicits questions about the processes and post-main-sequence planetary system architectures which can lead to asteroids being perturbed onto close-in orbits and subsequently accreted. In the Solar System, the outer planetesimal populations which are most likely to survive the intense giant branch phases of stellar evolution exhibit a high binarity fraction, with a significant population of near equal sized binary components. Here we present a previously unexplored area of post-main-sequence planetary system science which could contribute to the production of white dwarf debris systems, the dynamical evolution of binary asteroids around white dwarfs.

Through Rebound N-body integrations of equal mass binary asteroid systems in different planetary system architectures, we follow the dynamical evolution of binaries for 1Gyr of a white dwarf’s lifetime. We highlight how the distribution of planetesimals within a system changes due to the effect of binary dissociation through interactions with giant and terrestrial sized planets. Further, the implications for the white dwarf pollution process due to asteroid binarity is discussed with both dissociated and gravitationally bound binary systems approaching the white dwarf with small pericenters which could be further perturbed and lead to accretion.

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