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K. D. Mach (Beloit College/NOAO), N. H. Samarasinha (NOAO/KPNO)
We investigate the bound orbits of dust grains around the Centaur object 2060 Chiron to look into the role that they play on the observed coma of this object (Meech et al 1997). We obtained temporary orbits up to a few thousand days for ejected dust particles (of sizes on the order of microns to centimeters). We have found this by running computer simulations which follow paths of ejected particles by accounting for forces due to the gravity of the comet's nucleus, solar gravity, and solar radiation pressure.
The placement of the active region on the comet nucleus is of particular interest in this presentation. Theoretically, one can see that latitudinal placement of the active region on the nucleus affects orbital parameters because of the rotational velocity component passed onto the particle upon ejection. However, in agreement with Scheeres and Marzari (2000), we found that the longitudinal placement also changes the shape and longevity of ejecta orbits. In this study, we examine this phenomena further.
As expected, the speed of ejected particles at periapsis is much more than the speed at apoapsis. Thus, the particles spend much of their time near apoapsis, resulting in increased number density. We will briefly examine the idea of possible ``cometary shells'' or ``rings'' due to this as well as the implications for close cometary flybys.
KDM would like to thank the NSF and the REU program for providing this opportunity to carry out research at NOAO/KPNO.
References: Meech, K.J. et al. (1997) AJ, vol 113, 844-862. Scheeres, D.J., and Marzari, F. (2000) A&A, vol 356, 747-756.
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