Volume 532, August 2011
|Number of page(s)||4|
|Published online||14 July 2011|
Letter to the Editor
Strong chaos induced by close encounters with Ceres and Vesta
ASD, IMCCE-CNRS UMR 8028, Observatoire de Paris, UPMC, 77 Av. Denfert-Rochereau, 75014 Paris, France
2 Observatoire de Besançon – CNRS UMR 6213, 41bis Av. de l’Observatoire, 25000 Besançon, France
Received: 17 June 2011
Accepted: 7 July 2011
We consider the full Solar System including(1) Ceres and some of the main asteroids, (2) Pallas, (4) Vesta, (7) Iris, and (324) Bamberga. We show that close encounters amongthese small bodies induce strong chaotic behavior in their orbits and in those of many asteroids that are much more chaotic than previously thought. Even if space missions will allow very precise measurements of the positions of Ceres and Vesta, their motion will be unpredictable over 400 kyr. As a result, it will never be possible to recover the precise evolution of the Earth’s eccentricity beyond 60 Myr. Ceres and Vesta thus appear to be the main limiting factors for any precise reconstruction of the Earth orbit, which is fundamental for the astronomical calibration of geological timescales. Moreover, collisions of Ceres and Vesta are possible, with a collision probability of 0.2% per Gyr.
Key words: chaos / methods: numerical / celestial mechanics / planets and satellites: dynamical evolution and stability / minor planets, asteroids: individual: Ceres / minor planets, asteroids: individual: Vesta
© ESO, 2011
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