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The Dynamics of Meteoroid Streams

  • I. P. Wiliams (a1)

Abstract

Meteor showers are seen at regular and frequent intervals on Earth. They are caused by meteoroids (that is small dust grains) in a coherent stream, all moving on similar heliocentric orbits, burning up on encountering the atmosphere of the Earth. Such streams contain 1012 or more meteoroids, with the mass of the visible meteoroids ranging up to about 1 g. The main evolutionary effect on such streams is gravitational perturbations by the planets. Though grain-grain collision may be catastrophic for the two grains involved, it has no effect on the remainder of the stream, other than the fact that there are now two less grains in it. Solar radiation has some effect, but this can be included in the equations of motion. Because of the large numbers of particles involved, meteoroid streams represent a laboratory where many of our dynamical concepts can be tested.

At a basic level, meteoroid streams represent a collective dynamical phenomenon in which all members display roughly the same behavior. One of the fundamental questions which can be investigated is whether the behavior of the mean orbit of the whole stream represents the mean behavior of the stream members. Within the boundaries of some meteor streams lie regions where the orbits are in high order resonance with Jupiter. This also represents a phenomenon of interest. Finally, the possibility exists that some streams are in chaotic regions and it is interesting to investigate whether or not meteoroids in such regions do display chaotic behavior.

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The Dynamics of Meteoroid Streams

  • I. P. Wiliams (a1)

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