Original Paper

Earth, Moon, and Planets

, Volume 97, Issue 3, pp 341-351

First online:

Structure and Dynamics of the Centaur Population: Constraints on the Origin of Short-Period Comets

  • V.V. Emel’yanenkoAffiliated withDepartment of Computational and Celestial Mechanics, South Ural University Email author 

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The origin of Jupiter-family comets is linked to the intermediate stage of evolution through the Centaur region. Thus the structure of the Centaur population provides important constraints on sources of short-period comets. We show that our model of the Oort cloud evolution gives results which are consistent with the orbital distribution of observed Centaurs. In particular, it explains the existence of the large population of Centaurs with semimajor axes greater than 60 AU. The main source for these objects is the inner Oort cloud. Both Jupiter-family and Halley-type comets are produced by Centaurs originating from the Oort cloud. The injection rate for Jupiter-family comets coming from the inner Oort cloud is, at least, not less than that for a model based on the observed sample of high-eccentricity trans-Neptunian objects.

Key words:

Centaurs comets dynamics Oort Cloud origin trans-Neptunian objects