Dynamical environments of MU69: A state of chaotic clearing

José Lages, Ivan I. Shevchenko, Bruce G. Elmegreen, L. Viktor Tóth, Manuel Güdel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The second (after Pluto) plausible target object for the New Horizons mission is 2014 MU69. It is a classical TNO, a primordial contact binary. Identifying any material in the vicinities of a target object is of an especial concern for planning cosmic fly-byes, as it is hazardous for a space probe. Luckily, no such material has been reported for MU69 up to now. The point of our report is that this lucky absence is just a dynamical consequence of the physical nature of MU69. Spinning gravitating dumbbells create zones of dynamical chaos around them, and this has a clearing effect: Any material put in orbits around a rotating dumbbell (e.g., any material ejected from its surface) cannot be long-lived in such zones; it either escapes into space, or returns to the parent body's surface. As the orbiting matter is removed in this way, a spinning gravitating dumbbell clears its vicinities. We show that MU69 is able to create such a clearing, making itself a safe and hospitable target for a space mission. Therefore, the guest probe is expected to be safe on arrival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-229
Number of pages3
JournalProceedings of the International Astronomical Union
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2019


  • asteroids
  • Celestial mechanics
  • Kuiper Belt
  • minor planets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Space and Planetary Science

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