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(Mostly) dormant comets in the NEO population and the meteoroid streams that they crumble into

  • Peter Jenniskens (a1)

Abstract

Many of our annual showers do not have active parent comets. In recent years, minor planets have been identified that move among the meteoroids streams. Some streams, such as the Quadrantids, Geminids, and Sextantids, are in such unusual orbits that the probability of a chance association is only of order 1 in 106. The streams identify those objects as dormant comet nuclei. Other streams, such as the Phoenicids and α-Capricornids are associated with minor planets that were found to be weakly active at their last perihelion passage. All the streams investigated so far are young, less than 2,000 years old, and can not have been created in the classical sense of meteoroids being ejected from the comet nucleus by water vapor drag. Instead, these (mostly) dormant comets lost fragments at some point in the past, which crumbled into meteoroid streams. Scars of such events are now identified on the surface of active Jupiter family comets 9P/Tempel 1 and 81P/Wild 2. Thus, the meteor showers on Earth bear witness to what is the dominant mass-loss mechanism of comets in the inner solar system, a process that can account for much of the zodiacal cloud dust and the zodiacal dust bands.

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References

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(Mostly) dormant comets in the NEO population and the meteoroid streams that they crumble into

  • Peter Jenniskens (a1)

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