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Fragmentation hierarchy of bright sungrazing comets and the birth and orbital evolution of the Kreutz system. I. Two-superfragment model

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dc.contributor.author Sekanina, Zdenek
dc.contributor.author Chodas, Paul W.
dc.date.accessioned 2006-06-06T21:37:12Z
dc.date.available 2006-06-06T21:37:12Z
dc.date.issued 2004-05-20
dc.identifier.citation The Astrophysical Journal, 607:620–639, 2004 May 20, DOI: 10.1086/383466 en
dc.identifier.clearanceno The Astrophysical Journal, 607:620–639, 2004 May 20, DOI: 10.1086/383466
dc.identifier.clearanceno 03-3526
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2014/39288
dc.description.abstract A back-and-forth orbit integration technique, developed for our previous investigation of the splitting of the parent of the sungrazers C/1882 R1 and C/1965 S1, is now applied in an effort to understand the history and orbital evolution of the Kreutz sungrazer system, starting with the birth of two subgroups, which show prominently among the bright members and whose inception dates back to the progenitor's breakup into two superfragments. The integration technique is used to reproduce the motion of comet C/1843 D1 - the second brightest sungrazer known and presumably the most massive surviving piece of superfragment I - from the motion of C/1882 R1 - the brightest sungrazer on record and arguably the most massive surviving piece of superfragment II. Running the orbit of C/1882 R1 back to A.D. 326, the progenitor comet is found to have split at a heliocentric distance of 50 AU and nearly 30 yr before perihelion. The superfragments acquired separation velocities of similar to8 m s(-1) in opposite directions. Using the same technique, we show next that (1) the motions of two additional sungrazers, C/1880 C1 and C/1887 B1, are matched extremely well if these objects shared a common parent with C/1843 D1, and (2) C/1963 R1 (Pereyra), the second brightest subgroup I member on record, is more closely related to subgroup II objects (such as C/1882 R1 and C/1965 S1) than to C/1843 D1. This finding raises serious doubts about the major role of the subgroups in the system's orbital history and offers an incentive for considering an alternative dynamical scenario. The fragmentation models for C/1963 R1 and two additional bright sungrazers, C/1945 X1 and C/1970 K1, suggest that (1) these comets may have been the most massive pieces of the fragment populations formed from their respective disintegrating parents, and (2) the course of evolution of the Kreutz system at the upper end of the mass spectrum may be better ascertained from the distribution of the sungrazers' arrival times than from the sources of subgroups. If so, the fragment hierarchy should be determined primarily by the cascading nature of the fragmentation process, which was recently shown by Sekanina to control the evolution of minor fragments as well. The sungrazer system's estimated age is in any case very short, less than 1700 yr en
dc.description.sponsorship NASA/JPL en
dc.format.extent 345869 bytes
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf
dc.language.iso en_US en
dc.publisher The American Astronomical Society. en
dc.subject comets en
dc.subject sungrazing comets en
dc.title Fragmentation hierarchy of bright sungrazing comets and the birth and orbital evolution of the Kreutz system. I. Two-superfragment model en
dc.type Article en


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