Dynamical Lifetimes of Asteroids in Retrograde Orbits [EPA]


The population of known minor bodies in retrograde orbits ($i > 90 ^{\circ}$) that are classified as asteroids is still growing. The aim of our study was to estimate the dynamical lifetimes of these bodies by use of the latest observational data, including astrometry and physical properties. We selected 25 asteroids with the best determined orbital elements. We studied their dynamical evolution in the past and future for $\pm$ 100 My ($\pm$ 1 Gy for three particular cases).
We first used orbit determination and cloning to produce swarms of test particles. These swarms were then input into long-term numerical integrations and orbital elements were averaged. Next, we collected the available thermal properties of our objects and used them in an enhanced dynamical model with Yarkovsky forces. We also used a gravitational model for comparison. Finally, we estimated the median lifetimes of 25 asteroids.
We found three objects whose retrograde orbits were stable with a dynamical lifetime $\tau \sim 10 \div 100$ My. A large portion of the objects studied displayed smaller values of $\tau$ ($\tau \sim 1$ My). In addition, we studied the possible influence of the Yarkovsky effect on our results.
We found that the Yarkovsky effect can have a significant influence on the lifetimes of asteroids in retrograde orbits. Due to the presence of this effect, it is possible that the median lifetimes of these objects are extended. Additionally, the changes in orbital elements, caused by Yarkovsky forces, appear to depend on the integration direction. To explain this more precisely, the same model based on new physical parameters, determined from future observations, will be required.

Read this paper on arXiv…

P. Kankiewicz and I. Wlodarczyk
Tue, 7 Mar 17

Comments: Accepted 2017 March 2. Received 2017 March 1; in original form 2016 September 26