Short-lived asteroids in the 7/3 Kirkwood gap and their relationship to the Koronis and Eos families
A population of 23 asteroids is currently observed in a very unstable region of the main belt, the 7/3 Kirkwood gap. The small size of these bodies—with the notable exception of (677) Aaltje (∼30 km)—as well as the computation of their dynamical lifetimes (3< TD<172 Myr) shows that they cannot be on their primordial orbits, but were recently injected in the resonance. The distribution of inclinations appears to be bimodal, the two peaks being close to 2° and 10°. We argue that the resonant population is constantly being replenished by the slow leakage of asteroids from both the Koronis ( I∼2°) and Eos ( I∼10°) families, due to the drift of their semi-major axes, caused by the Yarkovsky effect. Assuming previously reported values for the Yarkovsky mean drift rate, we calculate the flux of family members needed to sustain the currently observed population in steady state. The number densities with respect to semi-major axis of the observed members of both families are in very good agreement with our calculations. The fact that (677) Aaltje is currently observed in the resonance is most likely an exceptional event. This asteroid should not be genetically related to any of the above families. Its size and the eccentricity of its orbit suggest that the Yarkovsky effect should have been less efficient in transporting this body to the resonance than close encounters with Ceres.