Journal article Open Access

Dust Trails of 8P/Tuttle and the Unusual Outbursts of the Ursid Shower

Jenniskens, P.; Lyytinen, E.; de Lignie, M. C.; Johannink, C.; Jobse, K.; Schievink, R.; Langbroek, M.; Koop, M.; Gural, P.; Wilson, M. A.; Yrjölä, I.; Suzuki, K.; Ogawa, H.; de Groote, P.

We calculate the position of dust trails from comet 8P/Tuttle, in an effort to explain unusual Ursid meteor shower outbursts that were seen when the comet was near aphelion. Comet 8P/Tuttle is a Halley-type comet in a 13.6-year orbit, passing just outside of Earth's orbit. We find that the meteoroids tend to be trapped in the 12:14 mean motion resonance with Jupiter, while the comet librates in a slightly shorter period orbit around the 13:15 resonance. It takes 6 centuries to decrease the perihelion of the meteoroid orbits enough to intersect Earth's orbit, during which time the meteoroids and comet separate in mean anomaly by 6 years, thus explaining the 6-year lag between the comet's return and Ursid outbursts. The resonances also prevent dispersion along the comet orbit and limit viewing to only one year in each return. We identified past dust trail encounters with dust trails from 1392 (Dec. 1945) and 1378 (Dec. 1986) and predicted another outburst on 2000 December 22 at around 7:29 and 8:35 UT, respectively, from dust trails dating to the 1405 and 1392 returns. This event was observed from California using video and photographic techniques. At the same time, five Global-MS-Net stations in Finland, Japan, and Belgium counted meteors using forward meteor scatter. The outburst peaked at 8:06±07 UT, December 22, at zenith hourly rate ∼90 per hour, and the Ursid rates were above half peak intensity during 4.2 h. We find that most Ursid orbits do scatter around the anticipated positions, confirming the link with comet 8P/Tuttle and the epoch of ejection. The 1405 and 1392 dust trails appear to have contributed similar amounts to the activity profile. Some orbits provide a hint of much older debris being present as well. This work is the strongest evidence yet for the relevance of mean motion resonances in Halley-type comet dust trail evolution.
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