EDP Sciences
Free Access
Volume 458, Number 3, November II 2006
Page(s) 1007 - 1011
Section Planets and planetary systems
DOI https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20064971

A&A 458, 1007-1011 (2006)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20064971

The size distribution of asteroids in cometary orbits and related populations

A. Alvarez-Candal1 and J. Licandro2, 3

1  Observatório Nacional/MCT. Rua Gal. José Cristino 77, Rio de Janeiro, 20921-400, RJ, Brazil
    e-mail: alvarez@on.br
2  Isaac Newton Group, PO Box 321, 38700, Santa Cruz de la Palma, Tenerife, Spain
    e-mail: licandro@ing.iac.es
3  Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, c/vía Láctea s/a, 38205, La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain

(Received 6 February 2006 / Accepted 4 August 2006 )

Aims.In this work we study the cumulative size distribution of the population of asteroids in cometary orbits (ACOs), aiming to discriminate its cometary or asteroidal origin.
Methods.The cumulative luminosity function was determined based on the absolute magnitudes of the ACOs. The cumulative size distribution was then derived and compared to that of possible sources of ACOs, such as the Trojans and Hilda asteroids and Jupiter family comets. The size distribution of the two sub-populations, NEOs and non-NEOs, identified by Licandro et al. (2005) were also analyzed.
Results.The derived cumulative size distribution index of the ACO population is $2.55\pm0.04$. The two subpopulations have distinct indexes: $-2.20\pm0.04$ and $-2.45\pm0.04$ for the NEOs and non-NEOs, respectively. The first value is similar to that of the Trojans and Hilda asteroids and the second to the Jupiter family comets.

The obtained values suggest that the non-NEO sub-population of ACOs can be composed of a significant fraction of dormant Jupiter family comets. On the other hand, the NEO sub-population is mostly formed by scattered objects from diverse sources, including main belt asteroids.

Key words: minor planets, asteroids -- comets: general

© ESO 2006