We have calculated the early thermal evolution of trans-neptunian objects by means of a thermal evolution code that takes into account simultaneous accretion. The set of coupled partial differential equations for 26Al radioactive heating, transformation of amorphous to crystalline ice and melting of water ice was solved numerically for small porous icy (cometary-like) bodies growing to final radii between 2 and 32 km and accreting between 20 and 44 AU. Accretion within a swarm of gravitationally interacting small bodies was calculated self-consistently with a simple accretion algorithm and thermal evolution of a typical member of the swarm was tracked in a parameter-space survey. We find that including accretion in numerical modeling of thermal evolution leads to a broad variety of thermally processed icy bodies and that the early occurrence of liquid water and extended crystalline ice interiors may be a very common phenomenon. The pristine nature of small icy bodies becomes thus restricted to a particular set of initial conditions. Generally, long-period comets should be more thermally affected than short-period ones.
- Kuiper Belt objects
- Thermal histories