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First stars that could significantly perturb comet motion are finally found

Status Report From: arXiv.org e-Print archive
Posted: Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Rita Wysoczańska, Piotr A. Dybczyński, Małgorzata Królikowska

(Submitted on 5 Nov 2019)

Since 1950 when Oort published his paper on the structure of the cloud of comets it is believed that stars passing near this hypothetical cometary reservoir play an important role in the dynamical evolution of long period comets and injecting them into the observability region of the Solar System. The aim of this paper is to discuss two cases in which the data obtained from observations were used and stellar perturbations (of different intensity, strong case of C/2002 A3 LINEAR and weaker case of C/2013 F3 PANSTARRS) on cometary motion were detected. Using the best available data from the Gaia DR2 catalogue and some other sources we searched for close stellar passages near the Sun. Our study took into account that some of the stars are parts of multiple systems. Over 600 stars or systems that approached or will approach the Sun closer than 4.0 pc were found. Having the list of perturbers completed we studied their influence on a sample of 277 Oort spike comets that were observed since 1901 and discovered that two comets might have their orbits fundamentally changed due to a close stellar encounter. Our results show how much different the dynamical evolution of comets would have looked when their motion was considered only in the Galactic potential. Uncertainties both in stellar and cometary data were carefully taken into account. Our analysis indicates that the occurrence of stellar perturbations on cometary motions is very rare and the uncertainties of these effects are hard to estimate.

Comments: 10 pages, 13 figures, accepted for publication in MNRAS

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Astrophysics of Galaxies (astro-ph.GA); Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR)

Cite as: arXiv:1911.01735 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1911.01735v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Rita Wysoczańska 

[v1] Tue, 5 Nov 2019 12:06:22 UTC (4,941 KB)

https://arxiv.org/abs/1911.01735

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