Waiting to make an impact: a probable excess of near-Earth asteroids in 2018 LA-like orbits
Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria,
2 AEGORA Research Group, Facultad de Ciencias Matemáticas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid, Spain
Accepted: 28 November 2018
Context. The discovery and tracking of 2018 LA marks only the third instance in history that the parent body of a fireball has been identified before its eventual disintegration in our atmosphere. The subsequent recovery of meteorites from 2018 LA was only the second time materials from outer space that reached the ground could be linked with certitude to a particular minor body. However, meteoroids like 2018 LA and its forerunners, 2008 TC3 and 2014 AA, are perhaps fragments of larger members of the near-Earth object (NEO) population. As the processes leading to the production of such fragments are unlikely to spawn just one meteoroid per event, it is important to identify putative siblings and plausible candidates from which the observed meteoroids might have originated.
Aims. Here, we study the pre-impact orbital evolution of 2018 LA to place this meteoroid within the dynamical context of other NEOs that follow similar trajectories.
Methods. Our statistical analyses are based on the results of direct N-body calculations that use the latest orbit determinations and include perturbations by the eight major planets, the Moon, the barycentre of the Pluto–Charon system, and the three largest asteroids. A state-of-the-art NEO orbit model was used to interpret our findings and a randomization test was applied to estimate their statistical significance.
Results. We find a statistically significant excess of NEOs in 2018 LA-like orbits; among these objects, we find one impactor, 2018 LA, and the fourth closest known passer-by, 2018 UA. A possible connection with the χ-Scorpiids meteor shower is also discussed. The largest known NEO with an orbit similar to that of 2018 LA is the potentially hazardous asteroid (454100) 2013 BO73 and we speculate that they both originate from a common precursor via a collisional cascade.
Conclusions. Future spectroscopic observations of 454100 and other NEOs in similar orbits may confirm or deny a possible physical relationship with 2018 LA.
Key words: methods: numerical / meteorites, meteors, meteoroids / minor planets, asteroids: general / minor planets, asteroids: individual: (454100) 2013 BO73 / minor planets, asteroids: individual: 2018 LA / minor planets, asteroids: individual: 2018 UA
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