We report the discovery of a minor planet (2006 SQ372) on an orbit with a perihelion of 24 AU and a semimajor axis of 796 AU. Dynamical simulations show that this is a transient orbit and is unstable on a timescale of ∼200 Myr. Falling near the upper semimajor axis range of the scattered disk and the lower semimajor axis range of the Oort Cloud, previous membership in either class is possible. By modeling the production of similar orbits from the Oort Cloud as well as from the scattered disk, we find that theOort Cloud produces 16 times as many objects on SQ372-like orbits as the scattered disk. Given this result, we believe this to be the most distant long-period comet (LPC) ever discovered. Furthermore, our simulation results also indicate that 2000 OO67 has had a similar dynamical history. Unaffected by the "Jupiter-Saturn Barrier," these two objects are most likely LPCs from the inner Oort Cloud.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science