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      From Centaurs to comets - 40 years

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          Abstract

          In 1977, while Apple II and Atari computers were being sold, a tiny dot was observed in an inconvenient orbit. The minor body 1977 UB, to be named (2060) Chiron, with an orbit between Saturn and Uranus, became the first Centaur, a new class of minor bodies orbiting roughly between Jupiter and Neptune. The observed overabundance of short-period comets lead to the downfall of the Oort Cloud as exclusive source of comets and to the rise of the need for a Trans-Neptunian comet belt. Centaurs were rapidly seen as the transition phase between Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs), also known as Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs) and the Jupiter-Family Comets (JFCs). Since then, a lot more has been discovered about Centaurs: they can have cometary activity and outbursts, satellites, and even rings. Over the past four decades since the discovery of the first Centaur, rotation periods, surface colors, reflectivity spectra and albedos have been measured and analyzed. However, despite such a large number of studies and complementary techniques, the Centaur population remains a mystery as they are in so many ways different from the TNOs and even more so from the JFCs.

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          Most cited references 110

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          A Disk of Scattered Icy Objects and the Origin of Jupiter-Family Comets

           M Duncan (1997)
          Orbital integrations carried out for 4 billion years produced a disk of scattered objects beyond the orbit of Neptune. Objects in this disk can be distinguished from Kuiper belt objects by a greater range of eccentricities and inclinations. This disk was formed in the simulations by encounters with Neptune during the early evolution of the outer solar system. After particles first encountered Neptune, the simulations show that about 1 percent of the particles survive in this disk for the age of the solar system. A disk currently containing as few as approximately 6 x 10(8) objects could supply all of the observed Jupiter-family comets. Two recently discovered objects, 1996 RQ20 and 1996 TL66, have orbital elements similar to those predicted for objects in this disk, suggesting that they are thus far the only members of this disk to be identified.
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            The Size Distribution of Trans-Neptunian Bodies

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              The Deep Ecliptic Survey: A Search for Kuiper Belt Objects and Centaurs. II. Dynamical Classification, the Kuiper Belt Plane, and the Core Population

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                21 May 2019
                Article
                1905.08892
                e54bd9e0-28e5-4324-8595-d87f26cf1207

                http://arxiv.org/licenses/nonexclusive-distrib/1.0/

                Custom metadata
                Review chapter to be published in the book "The Transneptunian Solar System", Editors: Dina Prialnik, Maria Antonietta Barucci, and Leslie Young, Publisher: Elsevier (20 pages, 2 figures, 1 long table)
                astro-ph.EP

                Planetary astrophysics

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