Ann-Marie Madigan

Instability in the outer solar system

The orbits of icy minor planets beyond Neptune are doing something very strange: they all tilt and pitch in similar ways, and maybe even cluster together on the sky. In a 2016 paper, my collaborator Mike McCourt and I show that when gravitational forces between minor planets on eccentric orbits are included in N-body simulations, the orbits incline rapidly off the disk plane, and tilt and pitch in exactly the same way.