Numerical evaluation of the general Yarkovsky effect: Effects on eccentricity and longitude of periapse

Joseph Spitale, Richard Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


J.N. Spitale and R. Greenberg (2001, Icarus 149, 222-234) developed a nonlinearized, finite-difference solution to the heat equation that yields orbital rates of change due to the Yarkovsky effect for small, spherical, bare-rock asteroids and used it to investigate changes in semimajor axis caused by the Yarkovsky effect. Here, we present results for changes in eccentricity and longitude of periapse. These results may be useful as benchmarks for simplified analytical solutions. Moreover, we explore a range of parameters, some of which are inaccessible to most other approaches. Instantaneous rates can be quite fast: For a 1-m scale body rotating with a 5-h period, de/dt can be as fast as 0.1 per million years (da/dt rates for similar test bodies were reported in J.N. Spitale and R. Greenberg (2001, Icarus 149, 222-234)). For more typical rotation periods, these rates would be considerably slower. Output from our calculation method could be used in simulations of asteroid population evolution such as that by W.F. Bottke, D.P. Rubincam, and J.A. Burns (2000, Icarus 145, 301-331). On long time scales, impacts would randomize the spin axis before significant orbital evolution could occur. Nevertheless, occasional favorable rotation states might persist long enough for substantial eccentricity changes to accumulate (1) if the body is decoupled from the main belt (e.g., many near-Earth asteroids), (2) if the population of very small (mm-scale) main-belt impactors is less than expected, or (3) if our numerical results are scaled up to km-size bodies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-222
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Asteroids
  • Dynamics
  • Meteorites
  • Meteoroids

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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