Status Report

Comet C/2018 V1 (Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto): dislodged from the Oort Cloud or coming from interstellar space?

By SpaceRef Editor
August 8, 2019
Filed under , ,

C. de la Fuente Marcos, R. de la Fuente Marcos

(Submitted on 7 Aug 2019)

The chance discovery of the first interstellar minor body, 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua), indicates that we may have been visited by such objects in the past and that these events may repeat in the future. Unfortunately, minor bodies following nearly parabolic or hyperbolic paths tend to receive little attention: over 3/4 of those known have data-arcs shorter than 30 d and, consistently, rather uncertain orbit determinations. This fact suggests that we may have observed interstellar interlopers in the past, but failed to recognize them as such due to insufficient data. Early identification of promising candidates by using N-body simulations may help in improving this situation, triggering follow-up observations before they leave the Solar system. Here, we use this technique to investigate the pre- and post-perihelion dynamical evolution of the slightly hyperbolic comet C/2018 V1 (Machholz-Fujikawa-Iwamoto) to understand its origin and relevance within the context of known parabolic and hyperbolic minor bodies. Based on the available data, our calculations suggest that although C/2018 V1 may be a former member of the Oort Cloud, an origin beyond the Solar system cannot be excluded. If extrasolar, it might have entered the Solar system from interstellar space at low relative velocity with respect to the Sun. The practical feasibility of this alternative scenario has been assessed within the kinematic context of the stellar neighbourhood of the Sun, using data from Gaia DR2, and two robust solar sibling candidates have been identified. Our results suggest that comets coming from interstellar space at low heliocentric velocities may not be rare.

Comments: 11 pages, 5 figures, 4 tables. Accepted for publication in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1908.02666 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1908.02666v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: Raúl de la Fuente Marcos

[v1] Wed, 7 Aug 2019 14:54:24 UTC (171 KB)

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