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Abstract: The fact that the Centaurs are the primary source of the Short Period Cometsis well established. However, the origin of the Centaurs themselves is stillunder some debate, with a variety of different source reservoirs being proposedin the last decade. In this work, we suggest that the Neptune Trojans togetherwith the Jovian Trojans could represent an additional significant source ofCentaurs. Using dynamical simulations of the first Neptune Trojan discovered2001 QR322, together with integrations following the evolution of clouds oftheoretical Neptune Trojans obtained during simulations of planetary migration,we show that the Neptune Trojan population contains a great number of objectswhich are unstable on both Myr and Gyr timescales. Using individual examples,we show how objects that leave the Neptunian Trojan cloud evolve onto orbitsindistinguishable from those of the known Centaurs, before providing a range ofestimates of the flux from this region to the Centaur population. With onlymoderate assumptions, it is shown that the Trojans can contribute a significantproportion of the Centaur population, and may even be the dominant sourcereservoir. This result is supported by past work on the colours of the Trojansand the Centaurs, but it will take future observations to determine the fullscale of the contribution of the escaped Trojans to the Centaur population.

Author: J. Horner, P. S. Lykawka


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