Effects of Shape and Spin on the Tidal Disruption of P/Shoemaker-Levy 9

  • A. W. Harris

Abstract

I derive an approximate criterion for the tidal disruption of a “rubble pile” body as it passes close to a planet (or the sun):
$$ \rho _{c} \approx \left [ 2 \rho_{p} \left ( {R_{p}} \over {r} \right )^{3} + \left ( {\omega} \over \omega_{0} \right )^{2} \right ] \left ( {a} \over {b} \right ), $$
where ρ c is the critical density below which the body will be disrupted, ρ p is the density of the planet (or sun), R p is the radius of the planet, r is the periapse distance, ω is the rotation frequency of the body, ω0 is the surface orbit frequency about a body of unit density, and a/b is the axis ratio of the body, considered as a prolate ellipsoid. For P/Shoemaker Levy 9, in its passage close to Jupiter in 1992, this expression suggests that the critical density is ∼1.2 for a spherical, non-spinning nucleus, but could be >2.5 for a 2:1 elongate body with a typical rotation period of ∼10 hours.

Keywords

Circular Orbit Axis Ratio Prolate Spheroid Comet Nucleus Disruption Criterion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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references

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. W. Harris
    • 1
  1. 1.Jet Propulsion LaboratoryCalifornia Institute of TechnologyPasadenaUSA

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