The formation of wide exoKuiper belts from migrating dust traps

Published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 1, 2021

Recommended citation: Miller E., Marino S., Stammler S. M., Pinilla P., Lenz C., Birnstiel T., Henning T., 2021, MNRAS, 508, 5638. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2110.04007.pdf

The question of what determines the width of Kuiper belt analogues (exoKuiper belts) is an open one. If solved, this understanding would provide valuable insights into the architecture, dynamics, and formation of exoplanetary systems. Recent observations by ALMA have revealed an apparent paradox in this field, the presence of radially narrow belts in protoplanetary discs that are likely the birthplaces of planetesimals, and exoKuiper belts nearly four times as wide in mature systems. If the parent planetesimals of this type of debris disc indeed form in these narrow protoplanetary rings via streaming instability where dust is trapped, we propose that this width dichotomy could naturally arise if these dust traps form planetesimals whilst migrating radially, e.g. as caused by a migrating planet. Using the dust evolution software DustPy, we find that if the initial protoplanetary disc and trap conditions favour planetesimal formation, dust can still effectively accumulate and form planetesimals as the trap moves. This leads to a positive correlation between the inward radial speed and final planetesimal belt width, forming belts up to ∼100 au over 10 Myr of evolution. We show that although planetesimal formation is most efficient in low viscosity (α=10−4) discs with steep dust traps to trigger the streaming instability, the large widths of most observed planetesimal belts constrain α to values ≥4×10−4 at tens of au, otherwise the traps cannot migrate far enough. Additionally, the large spread in the widths and radii of exoKuiper belts could be due to different trap migration speeds (or protoplanetary disc lifetimes) and different starting locations, respectively. Our work serves as a first step to link exoKuiper belts and rings in protoplanetary discs.This paper is about the number 1. The number 2 is left for future work.

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Recommended citation: Miller E., Marino S., Stammler S. M., Pinilla P., Lenz C., Birnstiel T., Henning T., 2021, MNRAS, 508, 5638.