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156 WGN, the Journal of the IMO 29:5 (2001) The 2001 Leonids and Dust Trail Radiants

Summary: 156 WGN, the Journal of the IMO 29:5 (2001)
The 2001 Leonids and Dust Trail Radiants
Robert H. McNaught and David J. Asher
On 2001 November 18th UT, the Earth will have close encounters with trails of meteoroids and dust generated
over the past few centuries by Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle. It has previously been shown that these trail encounters
will produce spectacular meteor displays, observers at east Asian longitudes and in North America having the
chance to see this year's Leonid activity peaks in a moonless sky. Work by Lyytinen et al. has discussed the
relevance of dispersive radiative e ects in trail aging. In this article, we nd that combining our existing ZHR
model with an empirical aging parameter still leads to expected rates of several thousand from the east Asian
trail encounters. We also consider what may be learned from high-resolution observations of radiants during such
outbursts, of particular interest in 2001 because of meteor activity expected simultaneously from more than one
trail. The Leonid radiant structure is shown to contain radiants from each dust trail separated by several arc
minutes, and moreover each dust trail radiant contains its own internal structure which relates to the Comet's
activity during the perihelion passage when the trail was generated.
1. Dust trail theories
Leonid meteor storms in November 2001 are now widely expected. These will occur when
the Earth passes through dense, narrow trails of meteoroids and dust embedded in the Leonid
stream. Several such trails exist, one being generated each time Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle
returns to perihelion every 33 years or so, and typical lifetimes for trails' survival as narrow,


Source: Armagh Observatory


Collections: Physics