A Proposed Alternative Dynamical History for 2P/Encke which Explains the Taurid Meteoroid Complex

A. Egal, P. Wiegert, P. G. Brown

Submitted on 10 July 2022


The Taurid Meteoroid Complex (TMC) is a broad stream of meteoroids that produces several annual meteor showers on Earth. If the linkage between these showers and 2P/Encke is at the centre of most TMC models, the small size and low activity of the comet suggest that 2P/Encke is not the unique parent body of the Taurids. Here we simulate the formation of the TMC from 2P/Encke and several NEAs. In total, we explored more than a hundred stream formation scenarios using clones of 2P/Encke. Each modelled stream was integrated and compared with present-day Taurid observations. As previously reported, we find that even slight variations of 2P/Encke's orbit modifies considerably the characteristics of the simulated showers. Most of the comet's clones, including the nominal one, appear to reproduce the radiant structure of the Taurid meteors but do not match the observed time and duration of the showers. However, the radiants and timing of most Taurid showers are well reproduced by a particular clone of the comet. Our analysis thus suggest that with this specific dynamical history, 2P/Encke is the sole parent of the four major TMC showers which have ages from 7-21 ka. Our modelling also predicts that the 2022 Taurid Resonant Swarm return will be comparable in strength to the 1998, 2005 and 2015 returns. While purely dynamical models of Encke's orbit -- limited by chaos -- may fail to reveal the comet's origin, its meteor showers may provide the trail of breadcrumbs needed to backtrack our way out of the labyrinth.


Comment: Accepted for publication in MNRAS (2022 June 28)

Subject: Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics