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With all of the new NEOs (near-earth objects) are they being pulled in or are they interacting with each other?

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    $\begingroup$ Their gravitational interaction with eachother is surely a non-issue here. $\endgroup$ – peterh Apr 27 '18 at 21:49
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No, they are being discovered where they are in their (usually fairly stable) orbits. They are not discovered because they are arriving or going to some particular location.

The one exception is long-periodic comets that have fallen in from the Oort cloud and now pass through the inner parts of the solar system, maybe to be captured by the gravity of Jupiter in a closer orbit.

(Strictly speaking all these objects are all pulled towards a central location, the Sun, but because they already have a sideways velocity that just means an orbiting motion where they are constantly falling around it.)

NEOs are too light and small to interact much with each other - the gravitational influence between them is microscopic compared to the influence from the planets which is usually microscopic compared to the sun's influence.

The reason we are seeing a lot more NEOs now is that new instruments are better and more searches are being conducted. LINEAR for example found 231,082 small Solar System bodies (of which 2,423 are NEOs) in the early 2000s and the Catalina Sky Survey has found 6,515 NEOs since 2009.

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  • $\begingroup$ This does a good job of answering the question, but consider talking a little bit about why we are finding more NEO's recently. $\endgroup$ – Phiteros Apr 28 '18 at 1:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Phiteros - Added a paragraph about it. $\endgroup$ – Anders Sandberg Apr 28 '18 at 6:47
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    $\begingroup$ Jupiter is unlikely to capture comets. "maybe to be captured by Jupiter" should be reworded or removed. Comet capture is rare, what happens is comet orbits are changed when they pass by a massive object, either a star or rogue planet passing through or close to the oort cloud every million years or so, or if/when comets pass close to a planet. Flying past and somewhat close to Jupiter will change a comets trajectory, but almost never lead to a capture. Granted, there are capture-moons and Jupiter has several, so it happens, but it's rare and never long-period comets. $\endgroup$ – userLTK Apr 28 '18 at 8:16
  • $\begingroup$ Apart from that one line, nice answer. Spot on. :-) $\endgroup$ – userLTK Apr 28 '18 at 8:17

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