Temporary Capture of Asteroids by an Eccentric Planet [EPA]


We have investigated the probability of temporary capture of asteroids in eccentric orbits by a planet in a circular or an eccentric orbit through analytical and numerical calculations. We found that in the limit of the circular orbit, the capture probability is $\sim 0.1\%$ of encounters to the planet’s Hill sphere, independent of planetary mass and semimajor axis. In general, the temporary capture becomes more difficult as the planet’s eccentricity ($e_{\rm p}$) increases. We found that the capture probability is almost independent of $e_{\rm p}$ until a critical value ($e_{\rm p}^{\rm c}$) that is given by $\simeq$ 5 times the Hill radius scaled by the planet’s semimajor axis. For $e_{\rm p} > e_{\rm p}^{\rm c}$, the probability decreases approximately in proportion to $e_{\rm p}^{-1}$. The current orbital eccentricity of Mars is several times larger than $e_{\rm p}^{\rm c}$. However, since the range of secular change in Martian eccentricity overlaps $e_{\rm p}^{\rm c}$, the capture of minor bodies by the past Mars is not ruled out.

Read this paper on arXiv…

A. Higuchi and S. Ida
Mon, 27 Feb 17

Comments: Accepted for publication in AJ, 14 pages and 6 figures