The similar orbital distances and incidence rates of debris disks and the prominent rings observed in protoplanetary disks suggest a potential connection between these structures. We explore this connection with new calculations that follow the evolution of rings of pebbles and planetesimals as they grow into planets and generate dusty debris. Depending on the initial solid mass and planetesimal formation efficiency, the calculations predict diverse outcomes for the resulting planet masses and accompanying debris signature. When compared with debris disk incidence rates as a function of luminosity and time, the model results indicate that the known population of bright cold debris disks can be explained by rings of solids with the (high) initial masses inferred for protoplanetary disk rings and modest planetesimal formation efficiencies that are consistent with current theories of planetesimal formation. These results support the possibility that large protoplanetary disk rings evolve into the known cold debris disks. The inferred strong evolutionary connection between protoplanetary disks with large rings and mature stars with cold debris disks implies that the remaining majority population of low-mass stars with compact protoplanetary disks leave behind only modest masses of residual solids at large radii and evolve primarily into mature stars without detectable debris beyond 30 au. The approach outlined here illustrates how combining observations with detailed evolutionary models of solids strongly constrains the global evolution of disk solids and underlying physical parameters such as the efficiency of planetesimal formation and the possible existence of invisible reservoirs of solids in protoplanetary disks.
We consider a scenario where the small satellites of Pluto and Charon grew within a disk of debris from an impact between Charon and a trans-Neptunian Object (TNO). After Charon’s orbital motion boosts the debris into a disk-like structure, rapid orbital damping of meter-size or smaller objects is essential to prevent the subsequent re-accretion or dynamical ejection by the binary. From analytical estimates and simulations of disk evolution, we estimate an impactor radius of 30–100 km; smaller (larger) radii apply to an oblique (direct) impact. Although collisions between large TNOs and Charon are unlikely today, they were relatively common within the first 0.1–1 Gyr of the solar system. Compared to models where the small satellites agglomerate in the debris left over by the giant impact that produced the Pluto-Charon binary planet, satellite formation from a later impact on Charon avoids the destabilizing resonances that sweep past the satellites during the early orbital expansion of the binary.