We investigate the flux of main-belt asteroid fragments into resonant orbits converting them into near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), and the variability of this flux due to chance interasteroidal collisions. A numerical model is used, based on collisional physics consistent with the results of laboratory impact experiments. The assumed main-belt asteroid size distribution is derived from that of known asteroids extrapolated down to sizes of ≈ 40 cm, modified in such a way to yield a quasi-stationary fragment production rate over times ≈ 100 Myr. The results show that the asteroid belt can supply a few hundred km-sized NEAs per year, well enough to sustain the current population of such bodies. On the other hand, if our collisional physics is correct, the number of existing 10-km objects implies that these objects either have very long-lived orbits, or must come from a different source (i.e., comets). Our model predicts that the fragments supplied from the asteroid belt have initially a power-law size distribution somewhat steeper than the observed one, suggesting preferential removal of small objects. The component of the NEA population with dynamical lifetimes shorter than or of the order of 1 Myr can vary by a factor reaching up to a few tens, due to single large-scale collisions in the main belt; these fluctuations are enhanced for smaller bodies and faster evolutionary time scales. As a consequence, the Earth's cratering rate can also change by about an order of magnitude over the 0.1 to 1 Myr time scales. Despite these sporadic spikes, when averaged over times of 10 Myr or longer the fluctuations are unlikely to exceed a factor two.
|Autori:||Menichella M.; Paolicchi P.; Farinella P.|
|Titolo:||The Main Belt as a Source of Near-Earth Asteroids|
|Anno del prodotto:||1996|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||10.1007/BF00117512|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||1.1 Articolo in rivista|