DDA 2015 – The 2014 KCG meteor outburst: clues to a parent body

This is one of a series of notes taken during the 2015 meeting of the AAS Division on Dynamical Astronomy, 3-7 May, at CalTech. An index to this series (all the papers presented at the meeting) is here.

Session: Dynamics of Small Solar System Bodies I

Althea V Moorhead (MSFC)


The κ Cygnid (KCG) meteor shower exhibited unusually high activity in 2014, producing ten times the typical number of meteors. The shower was detected in both radar and optical systems and meteoroids associated with the outburst spanned at least five decades in mass. In total, the Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar, European Network, and NASA All Sky and Southern Ontario Meteor Network produced thousands of KCG meteor trajectories. Using these data, we have undertaken a new and improved characterization of the dynamics of this little-studied, variable meteor shower. The κ Cygnids have a diffuse radiant and a significant spread in orbital characteristics, with multiple resonances appearing to play a role in the shower dynamics. We conducted a new search for parent bodies and found that several known asteroids are orbitally similar to the KCGs. N-body simulations show that the two best parent body candidates readily transfer meteoroids to the Earth in recent centuries, but neither produces an exact match to the KCG radiant, velocity, and solar longitude. We nevertheless identify asteroid 2001 MG1 as a promising parent body candidate.


  • $\kappa$Cygnid shower:
    • Competes with the Perseids, so unfairly obscure.
    • Observations go back to 1869.
    • Orb elements unusually spread out.
    • Relatively slow: $v_g \sim 24$ km/s
    • Short trajectories
    • Multiple flares
    • Diffuse radiant
    • 2014:
      • Unusually active year
      • Canadian Meteor Orbit Radar
      • European network
  • Showermemberselection:
    • Use established shower orbits to select members (Drummond 1981)
    • Use observed (Sun-centered) radiantandvelocity to select members
      • drift over time — fit curve
      • peaks in stacked prob. distribution (in $a$) correspond to MMRs
  • Parent body search
    • Use D parameter to rank objects from JPL Small Body Database
    • 2002 LV,2008ED69,2001MG1
      • Not quite…
    • via location of descending node — intersection with Earth’s orbit (Jenniskens & Vaubaillon 2008)
    • Integrate and search for close encounters
    • Hard to get a parent body to match all search criteria

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