Mass transfer between debris discs during close stellar encounters

We study mass transfers between debris discs during stellar encounters. We carried out numerical simulations of close flybys of two stars, one of which has a disc of planetesimals represented by test particles. We explored the parameter space of the encounters, varying the mass ratio of the two stars, their pericentre and eccentricity of the encounter, and its geometry. We find that particles are transferred to the other star from a restricted radial range in the disc and the limiting radii of this transfer region depend on the parameters of the encounter. We derive an approximate analytic description of the inner radius of the region. The efficiency of the mass transfer generally decreases with increasing encounter pericentre and increasing mass of the star initially possessing the disc. Depending on the parameters of the encounter, the transfer particles have a specific distributions in the space of orbital elements (semimajor axis, eccentricity, inclination, and argument of pericentre) around their new host star. The population of the transferred particles can be used to constrain the encounter through which it was delivered. We expect that many stars experienced transfer among their debris discs and planetary systems in their birth environment. This mechanism presents a formation channel for objects on wide orbits of arbitrary inclinations, typically having high eccentricity but possibly also close-to-circular (eccentricities of about 0.1). Depending on the geometry, such orbital elements can be distinct from those of the objects formed around the star.

Comments: 20 pages, 24 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS

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