Taxonomy and dynamics of small solar system body populations

Holt, Timothy R. (2021) Taxonomy and dynamics of small solar system body populations. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

Text (Whole Thesis)

Download (27MB) | Preview


In the story of our Solar system, the captured, irregular satellites of the gas giants and the Jovian Trojan swarms provide key records of the dynamical history. When investigating small Solar system body populations such as these, we need to accommodate their complex and diverse dynamical and physical properties, and our incomplete empirical knowledge of individual objects. To discover more about our Solar system’s small bodies using dynamical families and their histories, this thesis thus focuses on the use of astrocladistics, a novel taxonomic analysis adapted from the biological sciences, the ‘Tree of Life’. The astrocladistical analyses in this thesis are then combined with n-body simulations of particular dynamical families, to gain insights as to their origins.

The first population examined in this Thesis comprises the irregular Satellites of the gas giants, providing a small-scale verification of the use of cladistics for Solar system research (Paper 1). Two dynamical studies on the Jovian Trojans then follow. The first of these (Paper 2) investigates the escape rate of the Jovian Trojans using large scale n-body simulations, with a focus on the collisional families in the population. The second Jovian Trojans study (Paper 3) reports the discovery of the first example of a Jovian Trojan dynamical pair. The final work (Paper 4) included in this thesis uses astrocladistics to examine the Jovian Trojan swarms, and identify a set of new priority targets. The priority target can also help place the targets of the Lucy mission spacecraft, set to visit in the late 2020s, into a wider context. In overall terms, this thesis establishes astrocladistics as a tool for analysis of small Solar system bodies, provides new insights into the history of different dynamical families, and forms a promising basis for the wider adoption of cladistics in comparative planetology.

The work that comprises this PhD was presented, as a whole, in a seminar on 13th of April, 2021. A recording is available.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 47038
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Sciences (6 Sep 2019 - 31 Dec 2021)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Institute for Advanced Engineering and Space Sciences - Centre for Astrophysics (1 Aug 2018 -)
Supervisors: Horner, Jonathan; Carter, Bradley; Nesvorny, David
Date Deposited: 08 Feb 2022 02:49
Last Modified: 08 Feb 2022 02:51
Uncontrolled Keywords: asteroids, astrocladistics, Trojans, satellites
Fields of Research (2008): 02 Physical Sciences > 0201 Astronomical and Space Sciences > 020108 Planetary Science (excl. Extraterrestrial Geology)
Fields of Research (2020): 51 PHYSICAL SCIENCES > 5109 Space sciences > 510905 Solar system planetary science (excl. planetary geology)

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only