Interstellar Objects in the Solar System: 1. Isotropic Kinematics from the Gaia Early Data Release 3

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Abstract: 1I/'Oumuamua (or 1I) and 2I/Borisov (or 2I), the first InterStellar Objects (ISOs) discovered passing through the solar system, have opened up entirely new areas of exobody research. Finding additional ISOs and planning missions to intercept or rendezvous with these bodies will greatly benefit from knowledge of their likely orbits and arrival rates. Here, we use the local velocity distribution of stars from the Gaia Early Data Release 3 Catalogue of Nearby Stars and a standard gravitational focusing model to predict the velocity dependent flux of ISOs entering the solar system. With an 1I-type ISO number density of $\sim$0.1 AU$^{-3}$, we predict that a total of $\sim$6.9 such objects per year should pass within 1 AU of the Sun. There will be a fairly large high-velocity tail to this flux, with half of the incoming ISOs predicted to have a velocity at infinity, v$_{\infty}$, $>$ 40 km s$^{-1}$. Our model predicts that $\sim$92\% of incoming ISOs will be residents of the galactic thin disk, $\sim$6\% ($\sim$4 per decade) will be from the thick disk, $\sim$1 per decade will be from the halo and at most $\sim$3 per century will be unbound objects, ejected from our galaxy or entering the Milky Way from another galaxy. The rate of ISOs with very low v$_{\infty}$ $\lesssim$ 1.5 km s$^{-1}$ is so low in our model that any incoming very low velocity ISOs are likely to be previously lost solar system objects. Finally, we estimate a cometary ISO number density of $\sim$7 $\times$ 10$^{-5}$ AU$^{-3}$ for 2I type ISOs, leading to discovery rates for these objects possibly approaching once per decade with future telescopic surveys.
From: T. Marshall Eubanks Mr [view email]
[v1] Thu, 4 Mar 2021 19:52:42 UTC (161 KB)