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Title: Population of SOHO/STEREO Kreutz sungrazers and the arrival of comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy)

We examine properties of the population of SOHO/STEREO (dwarf) Kreutz sungrazing comets from 2004 to 2013, including the arrival rates, peculiar gaps, and a potential relationship to the spectacular comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy). Selection effects, influencing the observed distribution, are largely absent among bright dwarf sungrazers, whose temporal sequence implies the presence of a swarm, with objects brighter at maximum than an apparent magnitude of 3 arriving at a peak rate of ∼4.6 yr{sup –1} in late 2010, while those brighter than magnitude 2 arrived at a peak rate of ∼4.3 yr{sup –1} in early 2011, both a few times the pre-swarm rate. The entire population of SOHO/STEREO Kreutz sungrazers also peaked about one year before the appearance of C/2011 W3. Orbital data show, however, that a great majority of bright dwarf sungrazers moved in paths similar to that of comet C/1843 D1, deviating 10° or more from the orbit of C/2011 W3 in the angular elements. The evidence from the swarm and the overall elevated arrival rates suggests the existence of a fragmented sizable sungrazer that shortly preceded C/2011 W3 but was independent of it. On the other hand, these findings represent another warning signal that the expected 21stmore » century cluster of spectacular Kreutz comets is on its way to perihelion, to arrive during the coming decades. It is only in this sense that we find a parallel link between C/2011 W3 and the spikes in the population of SOHO/STEREO Kreutz sungrazers.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109 (United States)
  2. Ostlandring 53, D-25335 Elmshorn, Schleswig-Holstein (Germany)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22342039
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 778; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; BRIGHTNESS; COMETS; DATA ANALYSIS; DISTRIBUTION; DWARF STARS