Populating the asteroid belt from two parent source regions due to the migration of giant planets—“The Grand Tack”


Corresponding author. E-mail: kwalsh@boulder.swri.edu


Abstract– The asteroid belt is found today in a dramatically different state than that immediately following its formation. It is estimated that it has been depleted in total mass by a factor of at least 1000 since its formation, and that the asteroids’ orbits evolved from having near-zero eccentricity and inclination to the complex distributions we find today. The asteroid belt also hosts a wide range of compositions, with the inner regions dominated by S-type and other water-poor asteroids and the outer regions dominated by C-type and other primitive asteroids. We discuss a model of early inner solar system evolution whereby the gas-driven migration of Jupiter and Saturn brings them inwards to 1.5 AU, truncating the disk of planetesimals in the terrestrial planet region, before migrating outwards toward their current locations. This model, informally titled “The Grand Tack,” examines the planetary dynamics of the solar system bodies during the final million years of the gaseous solar nebula lifetime—a few million years (Myr) after the formation of the first solids, but 20–80 Myr before the final accretion of Earth, and approximately 400–600 Myr before the Late Heavy Bombardment of the inner solar system. The Grand Tack attempts to solve some outstanding problems for terrestrial planet formation, by reproducing the size of Mars, but also has important implications for the asteroid population. The migration of Jupiter causes a very early depletion of the asteroid belt region, and this region is then repopulated from two distinct source regions, one inside the formation region of Jupiter and one between and beyond the giant planets. The scattered material reforms the asteroid belt, producing a population the appropriate mass, orbits, and with overlapping distributions of material from each parent source region.