Exploreneos. VIII. Dormant short-period comets in the near-earth asteroid population

M. Mommert, A. W. Harris, M. Mueller, J. L. Hora, D. E. Trilling, W. F. Bottke, C. A. Thomas, M. Delbo, J. P. Emery, G. Fazio, H. A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We perform a search for dormant comets, asteroidal objects of cometary origin, in the near-Earth asteroid (NEA) population based on dynamical and physical considerations. Our study is based on albedos derived within the ExploreNEOs program and is extended by adding data from NEOWISE and the Akari asteroid catalog. We use a statistical approach to identify asteroids on orbits that resemble those of short-period near-Earth comets (NECs) using the Tisserand parameter with respect to Jupiter, the aphelion distance, and the minimum orbital intersection distance with respect to Jupiter. From the sample of NEAs on comet-like orbits, we select those with a geometric albedo pV ≤ 0.064 as dormant comet candidates, and find that only ∼50% of NEAs on comet-like orbits also have comet-like albedos. We identify a total of 23 NEAs from our sample that are likely to be dormant short-period NECs and, based on a de-biasing procedure applied to the cryogenic NEOWISE survey, estimate both magnitude-limited and size-limited fractions of the NEA population that are dormant short-period comets. We find that 0.3%-3.3% of the NEA population with H ≤ 21, and % of the population with diameters d ≥ 1 km, are dormant short-period NECs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number106
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015


  • comets: general
  • minor planets, asteroids: general

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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