Centaur

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Centaurs are small solar system bodies with a semi-major axis between those of the outer planets. They generally have unstable orbits because they cross or have crossed the orbits of one or more of the giant planets; almost all their orbits have dynamic lifetimes of only a few million years, but there is one centaur, (514107) 2015 BZ509, which may be in a stable (though retrograde) orbit. Centaurs typically behave with characteristics of both asteroids and comets. They are named after the mythological centaurs that were a mixture of horse and human. It has been estimated that there are around 44,000 centaurs in the Solar System with diameters larger than 1 kilometer.

The first centaur to be discovered, under the definition of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the one used here, was 944 Hidalgo in 1920. However, they were not recognized as a distinct population until the discovery of 2060 Chiron in 1977. The largest confirmed centaur is 10199 Chariklo, which at 260 kilometers in diameter is as big as a mid-sized main-belt asteroid, and is known to have a system of rings. It was discovered in 1997. However, the lost centaur 1995 SN55 may be somewhat larger.

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Centaur Object (Eric Weisstein’s World of Astronomy, Wolfram Research)
Chiron (Eric Weisstein’s World of Astronomy, Wolfram Research)

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    on November 19, 2018 at 5:27 pm

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    Astrophysicists Mattia Galiazzo and Rudolf Dvorak from the University of Vienna, in collaboration with Elizabeth A. Silber (Brown University, U.S.) investigated the long-term path development of centaurs, solar system minor bodies that originally have orbits between Jupiter and Neptune. The researchers have estimated the number of close encounters and impacts with the terrestrial planets after the so-called Late Heavy Bombardment about 3.8 billion years ago, as well as the possible sizes of […]

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