The Origin of Chaos in the Orbit of Comet 1P/Halley

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Thursday, June 23, 2016

Tjarda C. N. Boekholt, F. Inti Pelupessy, Douglas C. Heggie, Simon F. Portegies Zwart
(Submitted on 22 Jun 2016)

According to Munoz-Gutierrez et al. (2015) the orbit of comet 1P/Halley is chaotic with a surprisingly small Lyapunov time scale of order its orbital period. In this work we analyse the origin of chaos in Halley's orbit and the growth of perturbations, in order to get a better understanding of this unusually short time scale. We perform N-body simulations to model Halley's orbit in the Solar System and measure the separation between neighbouring trajectories. To be able to interpret the numerical results, we use a semi-analytical map to demonstrate different growth modes, i.e. linear, oscillatory or exponential, and transitions between these modes. We find the Lyapunov time scale of Halley's orbit to be of order 300 years, which is significantly longer than previous estimates in the literature. This discrepancy could be due to the different methods used to measure the Lyapunov time scale. A surprising result is that next to Jupiter, also encounters with Venus contribute to the exponential growth in the next 3000 years. Finally, we note an interesting application of the sub-linear, oscillatory growth mode to an ensemble of bodies moving through the Solar System. Whereas in the absence of encounters with a third body the ensemble spreads out linearly in time, the accumulation of weak encounters can increase the lifetime of such systems due to the oscillatory behaviour.

Comments: Accepted for MNRAS, 10 pages, 6 figures
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw1504
Cite as: arXiv:1606.07037 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1606.07037v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Tjarda Boekholt
[v1] Wed, 22 Jun 2016 18:34:19 GMT (213kb,D)

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