Collisional evolution of eccentric planetesimal swarms

Wyatt, M. C.
Booth, M.
Payne, M. J.
Churcher, L. J.
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Models for the steady state collisional evolution of low eccentricity planetesimal belts identify debris disks with hot dust at 1AU, like eta Corvi and HD69830, as anomalous since collisional processing should have removed most of the planetesimal mass over their >1 Gyr lifetimes. This paper looks at the effect of large planetesimal eccentricities (e>>0.3) on their collisional lifetime and the amount of mass that can remain at late times M_{late}. For an axisymmetric planetesimal disk with common pericentres and eccentricities e, we find that M_{late} \propto e^{-5/3}(1+e)^{4/3}(1-e)^{-3}. For a scattered disk-like population (i.e., common pericentres), in the absence of dynamical evolution, the mass evolution at late times would be as if only planetesimals with the largest eccentricity were present. Despite the increased remaining mass, higher eccentricities do not increase the hot emission from the collisional cascade until e>0.99, partly because most collisions occur near pericentre thus increasing the dust blow-out diameter. However, at high eccentricities (e>0.97) the blow-out population extending out from pericentre may be detectable above the collisional cascade; higher eccentricities also increase the probability of witnessing a recent collision. All of the imaging and spectroscopic constraints for eta Corvi can be explained with a single planetesimal population with pericentre at 0.75AU, apocentre at 150AU, and mass 5M_\oplus; however, the origin of such a high eccentricity population remains challenging. The mid-IR excess to HD69830 can be explained by the ongoing destruction of a debris belt produced in a recent collision in an eccentric planetesimal belt, but the lack of far-IR emission requires small bound grains to be absent from the parent planetesimal belt, possibly due to sublimation.
Comment: MNRAS in press
Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics, Astrophysics - Astrophysics of Galaxies