Dynamical transport of asteroid fragments from the ν 6 resonance

Takashi Ito, Renu Malhotra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


A large disruption in the main asteroid belt can cause a large flux, an "asteroid shower", on the terrestrial planets. We quantitatively examine the hypothesis that such an event was the cause of the lunar late heavy bombardment (LHB). We performed numerical integrations of about 20,000 test particles starting in the vicinity of the ν 6 secular resonance in the main asteroid belt. The purpose of these integrations is to calculate, for each of the terrestrial planets, the collision probability of asteroids coming from an asteroid break-up event in the inner part of the main belt. Compared with previous studies, we simulate nearly two orders of magnitude larger number of particles, and we include the orbital effects of the eight planets, Mercury to Neptune. We also examined in detail the orbital evolution of asteroid fragments once they enter the Earth's activity sphere, including the effect of the Earth-Moon orbit. We obtained the collision probability, the distributions of impact velocities, impact positions, and impact angles of asteroid fragments on the Moon. The collision probability with the Moon (∼0.1%) suggests that a fairly large parent body, 1000-1500 km in diameter, is required if the LHB event is to be ascribed to a single asteroid disruption. An even larger parent body is required for less favorable initial conditions than we investigated here. We conclude that an asteroid disruption event is not a viable explanation for the LHB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)817-825
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006


  • Asteroid
  • Celestial mechanics
  • Collision
  • Crater
  • Resonance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Geophysics
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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