EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 428, Number 2, December III 2004
Page(s) 683 - 690
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20041485

A&A 428, 683-690 (2004)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20041485

Atmospheric trajectories and light curves of shower meteors

P. Koten1, J. Borovicka1, P. Spurný1, H. Betlem2 and S. Evans3

1  Astronomical Institute, Ondrejov Observatory, Fricova 298, 25165 Ondrejov, Czech Republic
    e-mail: koten@asu.cas.cz
2  Dutch Meteor Society, Leiden, The Netherland
3  British Astronomical Association, Haverhill, UK

(Received 17 June 2004 / Accepted 5 August 2004 )

Double station data on 496 meteors belonging to several meteor showers were obtained within the program of the video meteor observations during years 1998-2001. Analyzed meteors cover a range of photometric masses from  10-7 to  10-4 kg with a corresponding range of maximum brightness from +4.7 to  -2.1 absolute magnitude. Atmospheric trajectories of Perseid, Orionid and Leonid meteors are analysed. These typical cometary high velocity meteors are compared to Geminid meteors with probable asteroidal origin and Taurid meteors - another cometary shower with significantly lower entry velocity. The light curves of the studied meteors vary widely, but generally are nearly symmetrical with the point of maximum brightness located close the to middle of the luminous trajectory. Small differences between showers are reported. We found that the height data are in good agreement with the dust-ball model predictions. The only difference is the beginning height behaviour. The beginning heights of cometary meteors increase with increasing photometric mass. These meteoroids probably contain a volatile part which starts to ablate before we are able to detect the meteors. The Geminid meteors are a different case. They start to ablate suddenly and their beginning height is almost constant in the whole range of studied meteoroid masses. In this case we observe real beginnings of meteor ablation.

Key words: meteors, meteoroids -- solar system: general -- comets: general

© ESO 2004