DescriptionThe outer solar system has been a topic of intense scientific research for twenty-five years, but particularly within the past year. In January 2016, astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin announced ``Planet Nine'' -- a hypothetical 10 Earth-mass object in the distant solar system responsible for the statistically significant orbital clustering of the longest-period trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). Since this announcement, several more long-period TNOs have been discovered. Our specific research focus is studying the orbital dynamics of these objects, both absent of and in the presence of a Planet Nine, with the ultimate goal of determining the mostly likely orbit of a potential Planet Nine. Such a study requires numerical N-body simulations of hundreds of ``clones'' of each object, where a clone is produced by varying the orbital elements of an object within uncertainties. These simulations must encompass the entirety of the solar system's history after the formation of the planets, or approximately 4.5 billion years. Additionally, we must conduct these simulations for a suite of potential Planet Nines, further increasing the computational demand. We intend to ascertain which simulations, and therefore which configurations of Planet Nine, allow for the dynamical survival and force the orbital alignment of the longest period TNOs. The computational demand for these simulations far exceeds what is available to us on a laptop or desktop computer, and therefore we are requesting a Startup allocation on OSG to complete this work.
OrganizationUniversity of Michigan
Sponsor Campus GridOSG-XSEDE
Principal Investigator
Stephanie Hamilton
Field Of ScienceAstrophysics