January 17, 2014

Quark Matter in the Asteroids of our Solar System: Evidence for a Game-Changing Space Resource

Small Very Fast Rotating (VFR) asteroids (bodies with rotation periods as short as 25 sec) are consistent with a population of strange asteroids [with quark dark matter] with core masses of order 10^10 – 10^11 kg.. Those would then be sources of millions of tons of antimatter for future spaceships.

The author commented at nextbigfuture.

He has written is a new paper : Quark Matter in the Solar System: Evidence for a Game-Changing Space Resource (Marshall Eubanks)

Macroscopic quark matter nuggets are an alternative explanation for Dark Matter (DM) consistent with the observational constraints on this mysterious cosmological component. Such quark matter theories have strong implications in the formation, development and current behavior of the Solar System, as primordial quark nuggets orbiting the Galaxy would be subject to capture during planetary formation, leading to the retention of condensed quark matter in the centers of the Sun, planets and asteroids today, a possibility that needs to be taken seriously in Solar System Research.

As quark nuggets are expected to have a minimum mass set by their physics of their formation, any sufficiently small asteroid with a quark matter core would be a strange asteroid, with a high bulk density and strong gravitational binding. Small strange asteroids would be the easiest nugget hosts to detect observationally, and the most accessible source of quark matter once detected. Solar System observations of small Very Fast Rotating (VFR) asteroids (those with rotation periods ≤ 1/2 hour) support the quark matter nugget hypothesis. If VFR asteroids are assumed to be bound by quark matter cores, the inferred core mass range peaks at ∼10 billion kg, consistent with the stable quark matter mass range predicted by the detailed theory of Zhitnitsky an
d his colleagues.

As there is a prospect that quark nuggets could be used to produce large amounts of antimatter, the economic benefit from even a single ultra-dense strange asteroid could be little short of astounding. If some of the Near-Earth Objects (NEO) are indeed strange asteroids they would truly constitute a game-change resource for space exploration. It is likely that the quark nugget theory will either be rapidly refuted using Solar System observations, or become a focus of space exploration and development in the remainder of this century



Observational Constraints on Ultra-Dense Dark Matter

There have been numerous suggestions that macroscopic ultra-dense objects, either quark nuggets or Primordial Black Holes (PBH), formed in the early universe, persisted until the present, and provide the Dark Matter (DM) required by a variety of astrophysical and cosmological observations. An important check on these DM theories comes from the condensed object mass spectrum, observational estimates of space density or flux compared to the known DM density. The three conventional checks on macroscopic DM, observations of the flux through laboratory detectors, planetary detectors and ground-based gravitational microlensing surveys, allow two disjoint mass regions for viable macroscopic DM particle masses. New Kepler satellite microlensing data restrict the allowed DM region somewhat, while a search for femtolensing of Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs) provides a new set of DM constraints, greatly restricting the allowed region for larger masses and leaving three allowed “windows” in the mass spectrum. Combining all of these constraints, DM made up exclusively of a particle of mass M DM would not violate current observational constraints if 6 × 10^−6 kg ≤ MDM ≤ 10 kg, or 10^5kg ≤ M DM ≤ 10^18 kg, or 10^20 kg ≤ MDM ≤ 10^22kg.

Primordial Capture of Dark Matter in the
Formation of Planetary Systems


Although Dark Matter (DM) apparently pervades the universe, it is rarely considered in the context of the formation of the Solar System and other planetary systems. However, a relatively small but non-negligible fraction of the mass of any such systems would consist of DM gravitationally captured during the collapse of the proto-planetary Nebula, subject to the very general assumption that DM particles have an individual mass << than the mass of the Earth. This process, much more efficient than the previously considered post-formation captures by three-body interactions, would apply to both microscopicDM, such as axions or Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs), and macroscopic DM candidates such as Compact Ultra-Dense Objects (CUDOs) and Primordial Black Holes (PBH). The Yarkovsky effect (radiation pressure thrusting changing the orbit) is indeed a logical means of testing this, and Marshall Eubanks has looked into it. Yarkovsky mass determinations have promise, and may be able to rule my proposal in or out in time, but the data are not there yet. Near Earth Asteroids with measurable Yarkovsky effect

We seek evidence of the Yarkovsky effect among Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) by measuring the Yarkovsky-related orbital drift from the orbital fit. To prevent the occurrence of unreliable detections we employ a high precision dynamical model, including the Newtonian attraction of 16 massive asteroids and the planetary relativistic terms, and a suitable astrometric data treatment. We find 21 NEAs whose orbital fits show a measurable orbital drift with a signal to noise ratio (SNR) greater than 3. The best determination is for asteroid (101955) 1999 RQ36, resulting in the recovery of one radar apparition and an orbit improvement by two orders of magnitude. In addition, we find 16 cases with a lower SNR that, despite being less reliable, are good candidates for becoming stronger detections in the future. In some cases it is possible to constrain physical quantities otherwise unknown by means of the detected orbital drift. Furthermore, the distribution of the detected orbital drifts shows an excess of retrograde rotators that can be connected to the delivery mechanism from the most important NEA feeding resonances and allows us to infer the distribution for NEAs obliquity. We discuss the implications of the Yarkovsky effect for impact predictions. In particular, for asteroid (29075) 1950 DA our results favor a retrograde rotation that would rule out an impact in 2880.

Detection of Semi-Major Axis Drifts in 54 Near-Earth Asteroids: New Measurements of the Yarkovsky Effect

We have identified and quantified semi-major axis drifts in Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) by performing orbital fits to optical and radar astrometry of all numbered NEAs. We focus on a subset of 54 NEAs that exhibit some of the most reliable and strongest drift rates. Our selection criteria include a Yarkovsky sensitivity metric that quantifies the detectability of semi-major axis drift in any given data set, a signal-to-noise metric, and orbital coverage requirements. In 42 cases, the observed drifts (~10^-3 AU/Myr) agree well with numerical estimates of Yarkovsky drifts. This agreement suggests that the Yarkovsky effect is the dominant non-gravitational process affecting these orbits, and allows us to derive constraints on asteroid physical properties. In 12 cases, the drifts exceed nominal Yarkovsky predictions, which could be due to inaccuracies in our knowledge of physical properties, faulty astrometry, or modeling errors. If these high rates cannot be ruled out by further observations or improvements in modeling, they would be indicative of the presence of an additional non-gravitational force, such as that resulting from a loss of mass of order a kilogram per second. We define the Yarkovsky efficiency f_Y as the ratio of the change in orbital energy to incident solar radiation energy, and we find that typical Yarkovsky efficiencies are ~10^-5

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