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The orbital gateway that brings all comets to our garden




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NASA / MSFC / Aaron Kingery

In the outer solar system, between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune, there is a cluster of small bodies known as centaurs. Properties between comets and asteroids.

Centaurs are thought to be their lives as icy bodies in the Kuiper belt began, far beyond the orbit of Neptune, as small gravitational perturbations shifted their orbit, they swung inward toward the Sun, the gravitational forces of the outer planets would then throw them into an orbit of the Centaurs.

The orbits However, the centaurs are relatively unstable, with most centaurs having orbits that intersect the orbits of one or more planets of the outer solar system, and it It's only a matter of time before they swing close enough to a planet to dramatically shift their orbit. Over the cosmic times, they tended to be thrown toward the inner solar system and became so-called Jupiter Family Comets (JFCs).

For that reason, it was a bit puzzling how centaurs are replenished. Since some of them are expelled from the centaur region, new icy bodies must join their fold. To study the dynamics of these bodies, a team has recently modeled the orbits of centaur-like bodies. They found a dynamic gateway through which objects from the Kuiper belt enter the centaur region and are then thrown into the inner solar system. This dynamic region of the Centaurs is near the orbit of 29P / Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 (SW1), a strangely active centaur.

Investigating the orbit of SW1 was the original goal of the team. Instead of being a strange member of the Centaurs, it is a body that is on its way to the inner solar system. Over time, it will join the comet of the Jupiter family.

Reference: Sarid, Gal, et al. "29P / Schwassmann Watchman 1, A Centaur in the Gate to the Comets of the Jupiter Family." arXiv Preprint arXiv: 1908.04185 (2019).

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NASA / MSFC / Aaron Kingery

In the outer solar system between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune are a group of small bodies called as Just as the mythical centaurs are hybrids of horse and human, these centaurs have hybrid properties between comets and asteroids.

It is believed that centaurs began their lives as centaurs. Icy bodies in the Kuiper belt are far beyond Neptune's orbit When small gravitational perturbations shifted their orbit, they swung inward toward the sun, drawing the gravity of the outer planets into an orbit of the centaurs.

However, the centaurs' orbits are relatively unstable: most centaurs have orbits, which cross the orbits of one or more planets of the outer solar system, and it's just a matter of time until they approach a planet so far that their orbit dramatically shifts cosmic time they would tend to be thrown towards the inner solar system and so-called Jupiter Family Comets (JFCs).

For that reason, it was a bit puzzling how centaurs are replenished. Since some of them are expelled from the centaur region, new icy bodies must join their fold. To study the dynamics of these bodies, a team has recently modeled the orbits of centaur-like bodies. They found a dynamic gateway through which objects from the Kuiper belt enter the centaur region and are then thrown into the inner solar system. This dynamic region of the Centaurs is near the orbit of 29P / Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 (SW1), a strangely active centaur.

Investigating the orbit of SW1 was the original goal of the team. Instead of being a strange member of the Centaurs, it is a body that is on its way to the inner solar system. Over time, it will join the comet of the Jupiter family.

Reference: Sarid, Gal, et al. "29P / Schwassmann-Wachmann 1, A centaur in the gate to the comets of the Jupiter family." arXiv preprint arXiv: 1908.04185 (2019).


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