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On stellar encounters and their effect on cometary orbits in the Oort cloud

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  • Institut Für Weltraumsensorik Und Planetenerkundung


We systematically investigate the encounters between the Sun and neighbouring stars and their effects on cometary orbits in the Oort cloud, including the intrinsic one with the star Gl 710 (HIP 89835), with some implications to stella and cometary dynamics. Our approach is principally based on the combination of a Keplerian-rectilinear model of stellar passages and the Hipparcos Catalogue (ESA 1997). Beyond the parameters of encounter, we pay particular attention to the observational errors in parallaxes and stellar velocities, and their propagation in time. Moreover, as a special case of this problem, we consider the collision probability of a star passing very closely to the Sun, taking also into account the mutual gravitational attraction between the stars. In the part dealing with the influence of stellar encounters on the orbital elements of Oort cloud comets, we derive new simple formulae calculating the changes in the cometary orbital elements, expressed as functions of the Jeans impulse formula. These expressions are then applied to calculate numerical values of the element changes caused by close encounters of neighbouring stars with some model comets in the Oort cloud. Moreover, the general condition for an ejection of comets from the cloud effected by a single encounter is derived and discussed.

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