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Re: Jupiter capture

>>The comet was perturbed by Jupiter to bring it back on another close
>>approach in its orbit around the SUN (NOT JUPITER).

>Trust me on this one (I know I have been wrong once or twice before, but not
>this time!). The comet was "captured by Jupiter" in the sense that it's orbit
>around the SUN was modified to bring it back to Jupiter again. If the comet
>had been captured into JUPITER orbit, it would STILL be in Jupiter orbit!

Comet Shoemaker-Levy was captured by Jupiter in a temporary orbit.  This has
happened before - other comets in the past have been captured temporatily
by Jupiter.  Such orbits can last for years and the comet typically makes
several close flybys of Jupiter, but will eventually leave Jupiter.
The orbits are highly eccentric and very elongated, and the Sun's gravity
play a signficent part.  In Comet Shoemaker-Levy's case, not only was
the comet in a temporary orbit, but the comet broke up into 21 fragments and
one of the subsequent close flybys of Jupiter was a bit too close - colliding
with Jupiter.

>>..surface.  In thinking further, I suspect that the Newsweek article was
>>correct because if Jupiter had just perturbed the comet in its solar
>>orbit, Jupiter would have been in a different quadrant when the
>>comet's path crossed Jupiter's orbital path the next time around.

>Orbital dynamics are not that simple. Besides, I don't recall anyone claiming
>that this was the first orbit completed since Jupiter captured it. It may have
>been "captured" millions of years ago into a Jupiter-crossing orbit, and this
>was the inevitable collision.

The comet's orbit is very chaotic - the celestrial mechanics experts are having
great difficulty in determining when comet SL9 initially was captured.
It is generally agreed upon the SL9 broke up after its close flyby in Jupiter
in 1992.  The best guess is that the comet was captured by Jupiter in 1972.

Ron Baalke