Discovery of a new branch of the Taurid meteoroid stream as a real source of potentially hazardous bodies

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Monday, May 29, 2017

P. Spurný, J. Borovička, H. Mucke, J. Svoreň
(Submitted on 24 May 2017)

Taurid meteor shower produces prolonged but usually low activity every October and November. In some years, however, the activity is significantly enhanced. Previous studies based on long-term activity statistics concluded that the enhancement is caused by a swarm of meteoroids locked in 7:2 resonance with Jupiter. Here we present precise data on 144 Taurid fireballs observed by new digital cameras of the European Fireball Network in the enhanced activity year 2015. Orbits of 113 fireballs show common characteristics and form together a well defined orbital structure, which we call new branch. We found that this branch is characterized by longitudes of perihelia lying between 155.9-160o and latitudes of perihelia between 4.2-5.7o. Semimajor axes are between 2.23-2.28 AU and indeed overlap with the 7:2 resonance. Eccentricities are in wide range 0.80-0.90. The orbits form a concentric ring in the inner solar system. The masses of the observed meteoroids were in a wide range from 0.1 g to more than 1000 kg. We found that all meteoroids larger than 300 g were very fragile, while those smaller than 30 g were much more compact. Based on orbital characteristics, we argue that asteroids 2015 TX24 and 2005 UR, both of diameters 200-300 meters, are direct members of the new branch. It is therefore very likely that the new branch contains also numerous still not discovered objects of decameter or even larger size. Since asteroids of sizes of tens to hundreds meters pose a treat to the ground even if they are intrinsically weak, impact hazard increases significantly when the Earth encounters the Taurid new branch every few years. Further studies leading to better description of this real source of potentially hazardous objects, which can be large enough to cause significant regional or even continental damage on the Earth, are therefore extremely important.

Comments:    24 pages, 22 figures, 5 tables. Accepted in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as:    arXiv:1705.08633 [astro-ph.EP]
     (or arXiv:1705.08633v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Jiří Borovička
[v1] Wed, 24 May 2017 07:08:03 GMT (6561kb,D)

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