Steady-state injection of short-period comets from the trans-Neptunian cometary belt

W. H. Ip, J. A. Fernández

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

To examine the scenario of the existence of a trans-Neptunian comet belt as an important source region of the short-period comets, the dynamical perturbation on a system of such icy planetesimals by a few Mars- to Earth-sized planetoids in highly eccentric orbits is considered. In the context of our planetoid-scattering model with three or four large planetoids orbiting in highly eccentric orbits, the total mass of the trans-Neptunian comet belt between the orbit of Neptune and 200 AU could be on the order of 0.002 M, at the present time, and the total number of the trans-Neptunian belt objects should be on the order of 1-3 × 108 with about 106 of them orbiting between Saturn and Uranus. Because of the strong gravitational scattering by the hypothetical planetoids, the number of the trans-Neptunian belt comets so derived should be regarded as a lower limit. It is quite possible that in the absence of such large planetoids, a much larger population (i.e., a factor of 100) of the trans-Neptunian belt comets might exist.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)185-193
Number of pages9
JournalIcarus
Volume92
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1991

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