2020-12-01

Astronomers discovered that the orbit of a comet is undergoing an unexplained dramatic change

By yqqlm yqqlm

It will take 40 years to complete a transformation that normally takes millions or even tens of millions of years.

getInterUrl?uicrIvZQ=1b49f38c7a2bbafab44b9f59647504cc - Astronomers discovered that the orbit of a comet is undergoing an unexplained dramatic change

The 2019 LD2 (ATLAS) comet taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Hubble Space Telescope/Bryce Bolin

A comet named 2019 LD2 (ATLAS) is migrating from one small group of celestial bodies to another. Although this happens frequently in theory, people have never witnessed the complete process of similar events before, and the orbital transition of this comet is so fast that it will take 40 years to complete under normal circumstances, millions or even thousands of years. A change that can only be completed in ten thousand years.

2019 LD2 (ATLAS) was originally a small centaur celestial body. Most of these small celestial bodies, which are mainly distributed between the orbits of Jupiter and Neptune, are mostly unstable. Their trajectory will intersect at least the orbit of a gas giant planet. Because of this, they are deeply affected by the gravitational force of giant planets, and they often end up being thrown out of the solar system or pushed into the orbit of Jupiter, becoming small bodies of the Jupiter family. Before they become the Mu tribe, their orbits will first expand beyond Neptune and become outer Neptune celestial bodies, then slowly migrate inward, and finally join the Mu tribe.

2019 LD2 (ATLAS) has never entered the inner solar system before. It is currently passing through a key area outside Jupiter’s orbit and just within Saturn’s sphere of influence. This area is considered to be the necessary passage for centaur celestial bodies to become Mu celestial bodies.

The most surprising thing is that the calculation results show that 2019 LD2 (ATLAS) is likely to be transformed into a Mu celestial body in the next 40 years. This means that our generation has the opportunity to witness the transformation of a centaur celestial body into a wooden celestial body. Such a fast speed is a bit unbelievable, because the process can take millions or even tens of millions of years under normal circumstances.

Reference
P/2019 LD2 (ATLAS):An Active Centaur in Imminent Transition to the Jupiter Family
https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.3847/2041-8213/abc888