Eight billion asteroids in the Oort cloud

Andrew Shannon, Alan P. Jackson, Dimitri Veras, Mark Wyatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Oort cloud is usually thought of as a collection of icy comets inhabiting the outer reaches of the Solar system, but this picture is incomplete. We use simulations of the formation of the Oort cloud to show that ~4 per cent of the small bodies in the Oort cloud should have formed within 2.5 au of the Sun, and hence be ice-free rock-iron bodies. If we assume that these Oort cloud asteroids have the same size distribution as their cometary counterparts, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope should find roughly a dozen Oort cloud asteroids during 10 years of operations. Measurement of the asteroid fractionwithin the Oort cloud can serve as an excellent test of the Solar system's formation and dynamical history. Oort cloud asteroids could be of particular concern as impact hazards as their high mass density, high impact velocity, and low visibility make them both hard to detect and hard to divert or destroy. However, they should be a rare class of object, and we estimate globally catastrophic collisions should only occur about once per billion years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2059-2064
Number of pages6
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Volume446
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 11 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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