The Vulcanoid Asteroids: Past, Present and Future
American Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Volume 5, Issue 3, May 2017, Pages: 28-41
Received: Jul. 10, 2017; Accepted: Jul. 25, 2017; Published: Aug. 25, 2017
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Martin Beech, Campion College, The University of Regina, Regina, Canada; Department of Physics, The University of Regina, Regina, Canada
Lowell Peltier, Department of Physics, The University of Regina, Regina, Canada
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A review and discussion of both the historical and contemporaneous ideas pertaining to the putative population of Vulcanoid asteroids is presented. Current observations indicate that no objects larger than between 5 to 10 km in diameter reside in the orbital stability zone between 0.06 and 0.2 AU from the Sun, and that, at best, only a small population of Vulcanoid asteroids might exist at the present epoch. We review the physical processes (sublimation mass loss, evolution of the Sun’s luminosity, Poynting-Robertson drag, the Yarkovsky effect, the YORP effect, unipolar heating and collisions) that will control the lifetime against destruction of objects, either primordial or present-day, that chance to reside in the Vulcanoid region. It is argued that there are no overriding and/or absolute physical mechanisms that fully rule-out the present-day existence of a small Vulcanoid population, but we note that the gap between what the observations allow and what the theoretical models deem possible is closing rapidly.
Vulcanoid Asteroids, Orbital Evolution, Thermal Processing, Detection Methods
To cite this article
Martin Beech, Lowell Peltier, The Vulcanoid Asteroids: Past, Present and Future, American Journal of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Vol. 5, No. 3, 2017, pp. 28-41. doi: 10.11648/j.ajaa.20170503.12
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