The Neptune Trojans: a new source for the Centaurs?

Horner, J. and Lykawka, P. S. (2010) The Neptune Trojans: a new source for the Centaurs? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 402 (1). pp. 13-20. ISSN 0035-8711

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Abstract

The fact that the Centaurs are the primary source of the short-period comets is well established. However, the origin of the Centaurs themselves is still under some debate, with a variety of different source reservoirs being proposed in the last decade. In this work, we suggest that the Neptune Trojans (together with the Jovian Trojans) could represent an additional significant source of Centaurs. Using dynamical simulations of the first Neptune Trojan discovered (2001 QR322), together with integrations following the evolution of clouds of theoretical Neptune Trojans obtained during simulations of planetary migration, we show that the Neptune Trojan population contains a great number of objects which are unstable on both Myr and Gyr time-scales. Using individual examples, we show how objects that leave the Neptunian Trojan cloud evolve on to orbits indistinguishable from those of the known Centaurs, before providing a range of estimates of the flux from this region to the Centaur population. With only moderate assumptions, it is shown that the Trojans can contribute a significant proportion of the Centaur population, and may even be the dominant source reservoir. This result is supported by past work on the colours of the Trojans and the Centaurs, but it will take future observations to determine the full scale of the contribution of the escaped Trojans to the Centaur population.


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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2010 The Authors. This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - No Department
Date Deposited: 21 Jul 2014 05:55
Last Modified: 04 Dec 2014 00:14
Uncontrolled Keywords: celestial mechanics; comets; Kuiper Belt; minor planets; asteroids; solar system
Fields of Research : 02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020110 Stellar Astronomy and Planetary Systems
02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020108 Planetary Science (excl. Extraterrestrial Geology)
02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020101 Astrobiology
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970102 Expanding Knowledge in the Physical Sciences
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.15702.x
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/25547

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