Journal Article

On the Emmenthal distribution of highly inclined asteroids

V. Carruba and J. F. Machuca

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 418, issue 2, pages 1102-1114
Published in print December 2011 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.19576.x
On the Emmenthal distribution of highly inclined asteroids

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Highly inclined asteroids are objects with sin (i) > 0.3. Among highly inclined asteroids, we can distinguish between objects with inclinations smaller than that of the centre of the ν6= gg6 secular resonance and objects at higher inclinations. Using the current mechanisms of dynamical mobility, it is not easy to increase the values of an asteroid with an initial small inclination to values higher than that of the centre of the ν6 resonance. The presence of highly inclined objects might therefore be related to the early phases of the Solar system.

It has been observed that several dynamically stable regions are characterized by a very low number density of objects, unlike low-inclined bodies that tend to occupy all the dynamically viable regions. The distribution of asteroids at a high inclination in the domain of proper elements in dynamically stable regions resembles an Emmenthal cheese, with regions of low number density close to highly populated areas. While this phenomenon has been observed qualitatively in the past, no quantitative study has yet been carried out on the extent and long-term stability of these regions.

In this paper, we identify two dynamically stable regions characterized by very low values of number density and permanence times of 100 Myr or more when the Yarkovsky force is considered. We show that the low number density of objects in these areas cannot be produced as a statistical fluctuation of any simple one-dimensional statistical distribution, such as the Poissonian, uniform and Gaussian distributions, or of a tri-dimensional distribution, such as the tri-variate normal distribution. The presence of unoccupied dynamically stable regions could indicate that the primordial asteroidal population might not have reached all available zones at high-i. This sets constraints on the scenarios for the early phases of the history of our Solar system.

Keywords: celestial mechanics; minor planets, asteroids: general

Journal Article.  10230 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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