Among all the asteroid dynamical groups, Centaurs have the highest fraction of objects moving in retrograde orbits. The distribution in absolute magnitude, H, of known retrograde Centaurs with semi-major axes in the range 6–34 AU exhibits a remarkable trend: 10 % have H<10 mag, the rest have H>12 mag. The largest objects, namely (342842) 2008 YB3, 2011 MM4 and 2013 LU28, move in almost polar, very eccentric paths; their nodal points are currently located near perihelion and aphelion. In the group of retrograde Centaurs, they are obvious outliers both in terms of dynamics and size. Here, we show that these objects are also trapped in retrograde resonances that make them unstable. Asteroid 2013 LU28, the largest, is a candidate transient co-orbital to Uranus and it may be a recent visitor from the trans-Neptunian region. Asteroids 342842 and 2011 MM4 are temporarily submitted to various high-order retrograde resonances with the Jovian planets but 342842 may be ejected towards the trans-Neptunian region within the next few hundred kyr. Asteroid 2011 MM4 is far more stable. Our analysis shows that the large retrograde Centaurs form an heterogeneous group that may include objects from various sources. Asteroid 2011 MM4 could be a visitor from the Oort cloud but an origin in a relatively stable closer reservoir cannot be ruled out. Minor bodies like 2011 MM4 may represent the remnants of the primordial planetesimals and signal the size threshold for catastrophic collisions in the early Solar System.
Celestial mechanics Minor planets, asteroids: general Minor planets, asteroids: individual: (342842) 2008 YB3Minor planets, asteroids: individual: 2011 MM4Minor planets, asteroids: individual: 2013 LU28Planets and satellites: individual: Uranus
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We would like to thank S.J. Aarseth, H.F. Levison and M.J. Duncan for providing the codes used in this research, and the referee for his/her quick and helpful report. This work was partially supported by the Spanish ‘Comunidad de Madrid’ under grant CAM S2009/ESP-1496. We thank M.J. Fernández-Figueroa, M. Rego Fernández and the Department of Astrophysics of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM) for providing computing facilities. Most of the calculations and part of the data analysis were completed on the ‘Servidor Central de Cálculo’ of the UCM and we thank S. Cano Alsúa for his help during this stage. In preparation of this paper, we made use of the NASA Astrophysics Data System, the ASTRO-PH e-print server and the MPC data server.
Aarseth, S.J.: Gravitational N-body simulations p. 27. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge (2003)