Near-Earth asteroid binaries in close encounters with the Earth

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Edp Sciences S A


The asteroids that may cross, or approach, the orbit of the terrestrial planets compose the NEAs population. In the present work we studied the effects of close encounters between hypothetical NEAs' binaries and the Earth to determine the limiting stability of their satellites as a function of the encounter conditions. We were able to estimate the frequency of such encounters, thus, the expected lifetime of the NEAs binaries. Through numerical simulations, all the encounters between asteroids and the Earth that were closer than 100 Earth radii were recorded. The next step consisted of simulating a representative sample of those encounters considering the Earth, and the asteroid with a cloud of non-interacting satellites around it. The largest radial distance for which all the satellites survive (no collision or disruption) was defined as the critical radius R-C. We present a statistical analysis of the recorded encounters, and the critical radius given as a function of the impact parameter and of the relative velocity, defining the stable and unstable encounter conditions for the NEAs satellites. In all these simulations and analyses three distinct satellite masses were considered: massless satellites, satellites with ten percent of the asteroid mass, and satellites with the same mass of the asteroid. We found that the close encounters that are able to remove the most internal satellites are quite frequent. For the NEAs of the sample initially belonging to the Atens group, we found that approximate to 93% of them suffer an encounter with such characteristics within 10 Myr and that 50% of these encounters happen within approximately 330 thousand years. Our results confirm that, in fact, the close encounter of binaries with the Earth is a powerful mechanism for disrupting these systems and that their lifetimes are strongly influenced by the planetary close encounters.



celestial mechanics, minor planets, asteroids: general

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Astronomy & Astrophysics. Les Ulis Cedex A: Edp Sciences S A, v. 566, 10 p., 2014.