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Thursday27 November 20034:23pm MST2003-11-27 UTC 2323
Today's news about Asteroids, Comets & Meteors
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News briefs

EKB news:  Today's issue of the journal Nature has two articles about the Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt, including one by Hal Levison and Allesandro Morbidelli, "The formation of the Kuiper belt by the outward transport of bodies during Neptune's migration" (reprint).

Here we show that the objects currently observed in the dynamically cold Kuiper belt were most likely formed interior to 35AU and were pushed outward by Neptune's 1:2 mean motion resonance during its final phase of migration [and] we conclude that the entire Kuiper belt formed closer to the Sun and was transported outward during the final stages of planet formation. 

Site news To help readers navigate this, A/CC's Major News About Minor Objects, "panel viewing" buttons were implemented yesterday (see an example at right). They let you cycle through "information panels," which are designed to fit into one screen (or page) of information when read with browsers at 1024x768 screen resolution. And, to help navigate a growing body of information, today a rudimentary first version of the Major News Index has been implemented, beginning with news items since November 1st.

This was the subject of a news release from Southwest Research Institute yesterday, "Pushing out the Kuiper belt," and an article at Sky & Telescope yesterday, "Ejecting the Kuiper Belt."

Also in the issue is an article by Brazilian astronomer Rodney Gomes, "Planetary science: Conveyed to the Kuiper belt," on the "consistent picture . . . now emerging" about the belt's formation.


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News briefs, part 2
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Traffic congestion Earth's neighborhood today, showing all ten asteroids currently in view that have absolute magnitude H>=21.7, including the two announced this morning (circled). This illustration is modified from an EasySky screen shot, looking down on the Earth's north pole, with the ecliptic grid set at ten lunar distances. The box at upper left shows how comparatively far above/below the ecliptic (blue line) each object is today.

Small objects:  Two objects were announced today, both discovered by LINEAR early yesterday in New Mexico, both followed up this morning in Arizona by Tenagra II Observatory (one also by Grasslands Observatory in Arizona), and both with preliminary orbit calculations that would classify them as "potentially hazardous" objects, except that both also are judged from their brightness (H>22.0) to be too small for that distinction. 2003 WH98 (MPEC 2003-W69) at H=26.0 is put by standard formula in the range of 17 to 38 meters/yards wide, and 2003 WJ98 (MPEC 2003-W68) at H=22.8 is probably a bit under 100 meters wide. The Sormano Observatory Small Asteroids list shows that 2003 WH98 will approach Earth at about 4.6 lunar distances tomorrow.

Among other small objects currently in view, the only one with observations reported in today's Daily Orbit Update MPEC, beside the one that matters most — 2003 WW26 (see below), is 2003 WU21, now put at H=22.0, caught last night by Great Shefford Observatory in England.


Risk monitoring 27 Nov.

The Thursday Daily Orbit Update MPEC carries observation of 2003 WG and 2003 WW26 by Powell Observatory from early yesterday in Kansas, and the 2.5m Isaac Newton Telescope watched WW26 the night before from La Palma in the Canary Islands, reporting a 13-minute span of nine positions. Today both risk monitors very slightly raised their risk ratings for the one remaining 2003 WG impact solution, and slightly raised their overall low 2003 WW26 risk assessments. NEODyS added WW26 solutions while JPL cut its count, including the only one beyond the NEODyS 2080 time horizon.

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 2321 UTC, 27 Nov

Object

Assessment

Years

VI
PS
cum
PS
max
T
S
Arc 
days
 2003 WW26 NEODyS 11/272061-20796-4.15-4.4205.117
JPL 11/272061-20805-4.16-4.4105.117
 2003 WG NEODyS 11/272055-20551-2.46-2.4608.161
JPL 11/272055-20551-2.46-2.4608.161
VI = count of "virtual impactors" (impact solutions)
See A/CC's Consolidated Risk Tables for more and maybe
  newer details, and check the monitors' links for latest info.
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