DISCOVERY OF MAIN-BELT COMET P/2006 VW139 BY Pan-STARRS1
Abbreviated Journal Title
Astrophys. J. Lett.
comets: general; minor planets, asteroids: general; ASTEROID 596 SCHEILA; INFRARED OBSERVATIONS; PHYSICAL-PROPERTIES; 133P/ELST-PIZARRO; ORIGIN; PERFORMANCE; FAMILIES; SYSTEM; LIMITS; TRAIL; Astronomy & Astrophysics
The main-belt asteroid (300163) 2006 VW139 (later designated P/2006 VW139) was discovered to exhibit comet-like activity by the Pan-STARRS1 (PS1) survey telescope using automated point-spread-function analyses performed by PS1's Moving Object Processing System. Deep follow-up observations show both a short (similar to 10 '') antisolar dust tail and a longer (similar to 60 '') dust trail aligned with the object's orbit plane, similar to the morphology observed for another main-belt comet (MBC), P/2010 R2 (La Sagra), and other well-established comets, implying the action of a long-lived, sublimation-driven emission event. Photometry showing the brightness of the near-nucleus coma remaining constant over similar to 30 days provides further evidence for this object's cometary nature, suggesting it is in fact an MBC, and not a disrupted asteroid. A spectroscopic search for CN emission was unsuccessful, though we find an upper limit CN production rate of Q(CN) < 1.3 x 10(24) mol s(-1), from which we infer a water production rate of Q(H2O) < 10(26) mol s(-1). We also find an approximately linear optical spectral slope of 7.2%/1000 angstrom, similar to other cometary dust comae. Numerical simulations indicate that P/2006 VW139 is dynamically stable for >100 Myr, while a search for a potential asteroid family around the object reveals a cluster of 24 asteroids within a cutoff distance of 68 m s(-1). At 70 m s(-1), this cluster merges with the Themis family, suggesting that it could be similar to the Beagle family to which another MBC, 133P/Elst-Pizarro, belongs.
Astrophysical Journal Letters
"DISCOVERY OF MAIN-BELT COMET P/2006 VW139 BY Pan-STARRS1" (2012). Faculty Bibliography 2010s. 2762.