Archive for March 7th, 2011

Influence of giant planets on the orbit of comet C/2010 X1

C/2010 X1 eccentricity vs time

After three months of comet observations we can state that, at present, its orbit is well known, at least the times of close approach to the Sun and Earth. The comet’s perihelion will be September 10th; closest approach to the Earth will be October 16th.

Now I want to concentrate on the gravitational influence of giant planets on the comet’s orbit, in particular its eccentricity. At left you can see a graph of the dependence of the magnitude of the eccentricity on time. The calculations were made with the help of the programming complex EPOS in the time interval from 1900 to 2200. As can be seen from the graph, the orbital eccentricity outside the field of influence of the giant planets, especially Jupiter, changes cyclically by extremely small amounts (it also changes the eccentricity of the planets, including Earth). This periodic changes provoked by most massive planet in the Solar System – by Jupiter, and specifically with sidereal period of this planet – 11.86 years (you can see that on the graph). Relatively serious changes in orbital eccentricity began in 2004 when the comet crossed the orbit of Uranus. Approaching the interior part of the solar system, the orbital eccentricity began to decrease, but in absolute terms the decrease is not significant. But the orbital eccentricity continues to diverge from a parabola. The decrease in eccentricity will continue to decrease for six more years until the comet once again passes beyond the orbit of Uranus. The comet will return to the Sun in around 12,000 years.

March 2011
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