A minor-planet group is a population of minor planets that share broadly similar orbits. Members are generally unrelated to each other, unlike in an asteroid family, which often results from the break-up of a single asteroid. It is customary to name a group of asteroids after the first member of that group to be discovered, which is often the largest.
There are relatively few asteroids that orbit close to the Sun. Several of these groups are hypothetical at this point in time, with no members having yet been discovered; as such, the names they have been given are provisional.
The overwhelming majority of known asteroids have orbits lying between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, roughly between 2 and 4 AU. These could not form a planet due to the gravitational influence of Jupiter. Jupiter's gravitational influence, through orbital resonance, clears Kirkwood gaps in the asteroid belt, first recognised by Daniel Kirkwood in 1874.
The region with the densest concentration (lying between the Kirkwood gaps at 2.06 and 3.27 AU, with eccentricities below about 0.3, and inclinations smaller than 30°) is called the asteroid belt. It can be further subdivided by the Kirkwood Gaps into the:
There are a number of more or less distinct asteroid groups outside the asteroid belt, distinguished either by mean distance from the Sun, or particular combinations of several orbital elements:
There is a forbidden zone between the Hildas and the Trojans (roughly 4.05 AU to 4.94 AU). Aside from 279 Thule and 228 objects in mostly unstable-looking orbits, Jupiter's gravity has swept everything out of this region.
Most of the minor planets beyond the orbit of Jupiter are believed to be composed of ices and other volatiles. Many are similar to comets, differing only in that the perihelia of their orbits are too distant from the Sun to produce a significant tail.
In astronomy, the plutinos are a dynamical group of trans-Neptunian objects that orbit in 2:3 mean-motion resonance with Neptune. This means that for every two orbits a plutino makes, Neptune orbits three times. The dwarf planet Pluto is the largest member as well as the namesake of this group. Plutinos are named after mythological creatures associated with the underworld.
A centaur, in planetary astronomy, is a small Solar System body with either a perihelion or a semi-major axis between those of the outer planets. Centaurs generally have unstable orbits because they cross or have crossed the orbits of one or more of the giant planets; almost all their orbits have dynamic lifetimes of only a few million years, but there is one known centaur, 514107 Kaʻepaokaʻawela, which may be in a stable orbit. Centaurs typically exhibit the characteristics of both asteroids and comets. They are named after the mythological centaurs that were a mixture of horse and human. Observational bias toward large objects makes determination of the total centaur population difficult. Estimates for the number of centaurs in the Solar System more than 1 km in diameter range from as low as 44,000 to more than 10,000,000
The Hilda asteroids (adj. Hildian) are a dynamical group of more than 4000 asteroids located beyond the asteroid belt in a 3:2 orbital resonance with Jupiter. The namesake is the asteroid 153 Hilda. Hildas move in their elliptical orbits so that their aphelia put them opposite Jupiter (at L3), or 60° ahead of or behind Jupiter at the L4 and L5 Lagrangian points. Over three successive orbits each Hilda asteroid approaches all of these three points in sequence. A Hilda's orbit has a semi-major axis between 3.7 and 4.2 AU (the average over a long time span is 3.97), an eccentricity less than 0.3, and an inclination less than 20°. Two collisional families exist within the Hilda group: the Hilda family and the Schubart family. The namesake for the latter family is 1911 Schubart.
In astrodynamics, the orbital eccentricity of an astronomical object is a dimensionless parameter that determines the amount by which its orbit around another body deviates from a perfect circle. A value of 0 is a circular orbit, values between 0 and 1 form an elliptic orbit, 1 is a parabolic escape orbit, and greater than 1 is a hyperbola. The term derives its name from the parameters of conic sections, as every Kepler orbit is a conic section. It is normally used for the isolated two-body problem, but extensions exist for objects following a rosette orbit through the galaxy.
The scattered disc (or scattered disk) is a distant circumstellar disc in the Solar System that is sparsely populated by icy small solar system bodies, which are a subset of the broader family of trans-Neptunian objects. The scattered-disc objects (SDOs) have orbital eccentricities ranging as high as 0.8, inclinations as high as 40°, and perihelia greater than 30 astronomical units (4.5×109 km; 2.8×109 mi). These extreme orbits are thought to be the result of gravitational "scattering" by the gas giants, and the objects continue to be subject to perturbation by the planet Neptune.
39P/Oterma is a currently inactive periodic comet in the Solar System with an orbital period of nearly 20 years. The size of its nucleus is not known.
A minor planet is an astronomical object in direct orbit around the Sun that is neither a planet nor exclusively classified as a comet. Before 2006, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially used the term minor planet, but during that year's meeting it reclassified minor planets and comets into dwarf planets and small Solar System bodies (SSSBs).
Detached objects are a dynamical class of minor planets in the outer reaches of the Solar System and belong to the broader family of trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs). These objects have orbits whose points of closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) are sufficiently distant from the gravitational influence of Neptune that they are only moderately affected by Neptune and the other known planets: This makes them appear to be "detached" from the rest of the Solar System, except for their attraction to the Sun.
The Nicemodel is a scenario for the dynamical evolution of the Solar System. It is named for the location of the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur — where it was initially developed in 2005 — in Nice, France. It proposes the migration of the giant planets from an initial compact configuration into their present positions, long after the dissipation of the initial protoplanetary disk. In this way, it differs from earlier models of the Solar System's formation. This planetary migration is used in dynamical simulations of the Solar System to explain historical events including the Late Heavy Bombardment of the inner Solar System, the formation of the Oort cloud, and the existence of populations of small Solar System bodies such as the Kuiper belt, the Neptune and Jupiter trojans, and the numerous resonant trans-Neptunian objects dominated by Neptune.
The five-planet Nice model is a recent variation of the Nice model that begins with five giant planets, the four plus an additional ice giant in a chain of mean-motion resonances.
The jumping-Jupiter scenario specifies an evolution of giant-planet migration described by the Nice model, in which an ice giant is scattered inward by Saturn and outward by Jupiter, causing their semi-major axes to jump, quickly separating their orbits. The jumping-Jupiter scenario was proposed by Ramon Brasser, Alessandro Morbidelli, Rodney Gomes, Kleomenis Tsiganis, and Harold Levison after their studies revealed that the smooth divergent migration of Jupiter and Saturn resulted in an inner Solar System significantly different from the current Solar System. During this migration secular resonances swept through the inner Solar System exciting the orbits of the terrestrial planets and the asteroids, leaving the planets' orbits too eccentric, and the asteroid belt with too many high-inclination objects. The jumps in the semi-major axes of Jupiter and Saturn described in the jumping-Jupiter scenario can allow these resonances to quickly cross the inner Solar System without altering orbits excessively, although the terrestrial planets remain sensitive to its passage.
A sednoid is a trans-Neptunian object with a perihelion well beyond the Kuiper cliff at 47.8 AU. Only three objects are known from this population: 90377 Sedna, 2012 VP113, and 541132 Leleākūhonua (2015 TG387), but it is suspected that there are many more. All three have perihelia greater than 64 AU. These objects lie outside an apparently nearly empty gap in the Solar System and have no significant interaction with the planets. They are usually grouped with the detached objects. Some astronomers, such as Scott Sheppard, consider the sednoids to be inner Oort cloud objects (OCOs), though the inner Oort cloud, or Hills cloud, was originally predicted to lie beyond 2,000 AU, beyond the aphelia of the three known sednoids.
An extreme trans-Neptunian object (ETNO) is a trans-Neptunian object orbiting the Sun well beyond Neptune (30 AU) in the outermost region of the Solar System. An ETNO has a large semi-major axis of at least 150–250 AU. Its orbit is much less affected by the known giant planets than all other known trans-Neptunian objects. They may, however, be influenced by gravitational interactions with a hypothetical Planet Nine, shepherding these objects into similar types of orbits. The known ETNOs exhibit a highly statistically significant asymmetry between the distributions of object pairs with small ascending and descending nodal distances that might be indicative of a response to external perturbations.
Planet Nine is a hypothetical planet in the outer region of the Solar System. Its gravitational effects could explain the unusual clustering of orbits for a group of extreme trans-Neptunian objects (ETNOs), bodies beyond Neptune that orbit the Sun at distances averaging more than 250 times that of the Earth. These ETNOs tend to make their closest approaches to the Sun in one sector, and their orbits are similarly tilted. These alignments suggest that an undiscovered planet may be shepherding the orbits of the most distant known Solar System objects. Nonetheless, some astronomers question the idea that the hypothetical planet exists and instead assert that the clustering of the ETNOs orbits is due to observing biases, resulting from the difficulty of discovering and tracking these objects during much of the year.
2014 FC72 is a trans-Neptunian object, classified as a scattered and detached object, located in the outermost region of the Solar System. It was first observed on 24 March 2014 by astronomers with the Pan-STARRS survey at Haleakala Observatory, Hawaii, United States. With its perihelion distant from Neptune, it belongs to a small and poorly understood group of objects with moderate eccentricities. The possible dwarf planet measures approximately 500 kilometers (310 miles) in diameter.
2015 FJ345 is a trans-Neptunian object and detached object, located in the scattered disc, the outermost region of the Solar System. It was first observed on 17 March 2015, by a team led by American astronomer Scott Sheppard at the Mauna Kea Observatories, Hawaii, United States. With its perihelion of almost 51 AU, it belongs to a small and poorly understood group of very distant objects with moderate eccentricities. The object is not a dwarf planet candidate as it only measures approximately 120 kilometers (75 miles) in diameter.
2015 KQ174 is a trans-Neptunian object, both considered a scattered and detached object, located in the outermost region of the Solar System. The object with a moderately inclined and eccentric orbit measures approximately 154 kilometers (96 miles) in diameter. It was first observed on 24 May 2015, by astronomers at the Mauna Kea Observatories in Hawaii, United States.
The hypothetical Planet Nine would modify the orbits of extreme trans-Neptunian objects via a combination of effects. On very long timescales exchanges of angular momentum with Planet Nine cause the perihelia of anti-aligned objects to rise until their precession reverses direction, maintaining their anti-alignment, and later fall, returning them to their original orbits. On shorter timescales mean-motion resonances with Planet Nine provides phase protection, which stabilizes their orbits by slightly altering the objects' semi-major axes, keeping their orbits synchronized with Planet Nine's and preventing close approaches. The inclination of Planet Nine's orbit weakens this protection, resulting in a chaotic variation of semi-major axes as objects hop between resonances. The orbital poles of the objects circle that of the Solar System's Laplace plane, which at large semi-major axes is warped toward the plane of Planet Nine's orbit, causing their poles to be clustered toward one side.
2019 AQ3 is an inclined near-Earth object of the small Atira group from the innermost region of the Solar System, estimated to measure 1.4 kilometers (0.9 miles) in diameter. Among the hundreds of thousands known asteroids, 2019 AQ3's orbit was thought to have likely the smallest semi-major axis (0.589 AU) and aphelion (0.77 AU), that is, the orbit's average distance and farthest point from the Sun, respectively. The object was first observed on 4 January 2019, by astronomers at Palomar's Zwicky Transient Facility in California, with recovered images dating back to 2015.
2014 ST373 (prov. designation:2014 ST373) is a trans-Neptunian object and a detached object from the outermost region of the Solar System. With a perihelion of 50.2 AU, it belongs to the top 10 minor planets with the highest known perihelia of our Solar System. and is neither a scattered disc nor an extreme trans-Neptunian object. It measures approximately 370 kilometers (230 miles) in diameter and was first observed on 25 September 2014, by astronomers using the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.
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