Possible Orbital Histories of Comet Shoemaker-Levy IX

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Session 4 -- Solar System
Display presentation, Monday, 30, 1994, 9:20-6:30

[4.01] Possible Orbital Histories of Comet Shoemaker-Levy IX

L.Dones (UC Santa Cruz and NASA/Ames Research Center), H.F.Levison (Southwest Research Institute), M.J.Duncan (Queen's University)

By means of long--term orbit integrations, we have investigated the orbital evolution of three classes of objects which might have evolved into the present orbit of Comet Shoemaker-Levy IX: (1) low--inclination, Jupiter--family comets; (2) escaped Trojan asteroids of Jupiter; (3) errant outer main belt asteroids. The likelihood of these three scenarios depends upon the population of each class and the collision probability of each with Jupiter. We find that both scenarios (1) and (2) can lead to the near--circular heliocentric orbit of Shoemaker-Levy IX which it apparently has occupied recently (L.A.M. Benner and W.B. McKinnon, unpublished). A small fraction of such bodies collide with Jupiter (H.F. Levison and M. Duncan, in preparation); of this fraction, about 20\% are weakly bound to the planet (cf.Tancredi et al., Astron.\ Astrophys.\ 239 , 375 (1990)). Scenario (3) appears less likely.

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