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Title:
The origin of short-period comets
Authors:
Duncan, M.; Quinn, T.; Tremaine, S.
Affiliation:
AA(Lick Observatory, Santa Cruz, CA), AB(Toronto, University, Canada), AC(Toronto, University, Canada)
Publication:
Astrophysical Journal, Part 2 - Letters (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 328, May 15, 1988, p. L69-L73. Research supported by the University of Toronto and NSERC. (ApJL Homepage)
Publication Date:
05/1988
Category:
Astrophysics; Comets
Origin:
STI
NASA/STI Keywords:
Comets, Gas Giant Planets, Orbital Elements, Astronomical Models, Gravitational Effects
Keywords:
COMETS, SHORT-PERIOD COMETS, ORIGIN, NUMERICAL METHODS, SIMULATIONS, EVOLUTION, ORBITS, GRAVITY EFFECTS, PERTURBATIONS, DISTRIBUTION, SCATTERING, SOURCE, ORBITAL ELEMENTS, INCLINATION, NEPTUNE-CROSSERS, PROCEDURE, OORT CLOUD, POSITION (LOCATION), NEPTUNE, ANALYSIS
DOI:
10.1086/185162
Bibliographic Code:
1988ApJ...328L..69D

Abstract

The authors present the key results of an extensive series of numerical simulations of the evolution of comet orbits due to the gravitational perturbations of the giant planets. The results show that the inclination distribution of comets with large perihelion (q <= 30 AU) that evolve to observable comets (i.e., those with q <= 1.5 AU) is approximately preserved. Thus, the short-period (SP) comets, which are mostly in prograde, low-inclination orbits, cannot arise from gravitational scattering of any spherical population of comets (such as the Oort cloud). However, the distribution of orbital elements of SP comets arising from a population of low-inclination Neptune-crossing comets is in excellent agreement with observations. It is concluded that the SP comets arise from a cometary belt in the outer solar system.

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