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Astron. Astrophys. 327, 1242-1252

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Meteor stream activity

V. The Quadrantids, a very young stream

P. Jenniskens1,2, H. Betlem2, M. de Lignie2, M. Langbroek2, and M. van Vliet2

1 NASA/Ames Research Center, Mail Stop 239-4, Moffett Field, CA 94035-1000, USA
2 Dutch Meteor Society, Lederkarper 4, 2318 NB Leiden, The Netherlands

Received 30 September 1996 / Accepted 11 June 1997


This paper presents the first large set of precisely reduced orbits of Quadrantid meteoroids. These orbits were obtained from photographic observations during the 1995 return of the Quadrantid stream. The orbits refer to the main peak of the activity curve, with an unidentified few being part of a broad background component. The measured dispersion of orbits is less than from previous data obtained by less accurate techniques. In combination with existing stream models, we conclude that the main component is only about 500 years young, much less than the 5000-7500 year age that was widely assumed before. This main peak is now interpreted as an ''outburst", with an evolution history similar to other near-comet type outbursts, while the background is thought to be the classical ''annual" dust component. The stream does not originate from comet 96P/Machholz 1. Rather, the parent object may be hiding as an asteroid-like object in a high-inclination orbit. An estimate of that orbit is given.

Key words: comets - meteors, meteoroids

Send offprint requests to: NASA/Ames Research Center.
PJ is associated with the SETI Institute

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1997

Online publication: October 20, 1997
Last change: April 6, 1998