Predicting the Strength of Leonid Outbursts

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A simple model is described that predicts the time of occurrences and peak activity of Leonid shower outbursts. It is assumed that the ejection speeds of escaping particles at each return of the parent comet near perihelion are very small, but solar radiation pressure acting differently on different particles causing a spread of particles into different period orbits. Earlier papers predicted the position of the resulting dust trails. This paper sets forth to better predict the strength of the expected outbursts by considering the role of non-isotropic effects in the interaction with the solar radiation on the dispersion of particles away from the dust trail center. This paper determines the approximate magnitude of the relevant effects. Predictions for the next few years are presented that include such considerations, for reasonable assumptions of particle properties. For example, earlier predictions for the 1999 storm of ZHR = 6,000–7,000 are now reduced by a factor of two, which is in better agreement with the observed ZHR ∼ 4,000. The success of the technique, when applied to historic meteor storms and outbursts without need of additional free parameters, lends confidence to the soundness of the underlying model and to its application for future predictions. We predict that the best encounters of this return of the parent-comet will occur in the years 2001 and 2002.

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