Inclination Excitation by Resonance Sweeping of the Kuiper Belt

R. Malhotra (LPI)

The highly non-uniform orbital distribution of the observed Kuiper Belt objects -- many objects locked in orbital resonances with Neptune, with a broad distribution of orbital eccentricities -- is suggestive of resonance sweeping of the Kuiper Belt by Neptune in the early history of the planetary system. The inclinations of Kuiper Belt objects also have a surprisingly broad distribution. There are at least three distinct inclination excitation mechanisms that operate on Kuiper Belt objects: the tex2html_wrap_inline12 secular resonance, the Kozai mechanism, and inclination-type mean motion resonances. We present results of mathematical analysis and computer modeling of these dynamical mechanisms. For some choices of initial conditions and parameters, large inclinations can be excited as a consequence of resonance sweeping. We discuss the constraints on resonance sweeping models provided by a comparison of theoretical results with the observed inclination distribution.