Report

The Mass Disruption of Oort Cloud Comets

Science  21 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5576, pp. 2212-2215
DOI: 10.1126/science.1070226

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Abstract

We have calculated the number of dormant, nearly isotropic Oort cloud comets in the solar system by (i) combining orbital distribution models with statistical models of dormant comet discoveries by well-defined surveys and (ii) comparing the model results to observations of a population of dormant comets. Dynamical models that assume that comets are not destroyed predict that we should have discovered ∼100 times more dormant nearly isotropic comets than are actually seen. Thus, as comets evolve inward from the Oort cloud, the majority of them must physically disrupt.

  • * To whom correspondence should be sent. E-mail: hal{at}gort.boulder.swri.edu

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