Title

DISCOVERY OF MAIN-BELT COMET P/2006 VW139 BY Pan-STARRS1

Authors

Authors

H. H. Hsieh; B. Yang; N. Haghighipour; H. M. Kaluna; A. Fitzsimmons; L. Denneau; B. Novakovic; R. Jedicke; R. J. Wainscoat; J. D. Armstrong; S. R. Duddy; S. C. Lowry; C. A. Trujillo; M. Micheli; J. V. Keane; L. Urban; T. Riesen; K. J. Meech; S. Abe; Y. C. Cheng; W. P. Chen; M. Granvik; T. Grav; W. H. Ip; D. Kinoshita; J. Kleyna; P. Lacerda; T. Lister; A. Milani; D. J. Tholen; P. Veres; C. M. Lisse; M. S. Kelley; Y. R. Fernandez; B. C. Bhatt; D. K. Sahu; N. Kaiser; K. C. Chambers; K. W. Hodapp; E. A. Magnier; P. A. Price;J. L. Tonry

Comments

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Abbreviated Journal Title

Astrophys. J. Lett.

Keywords

comets: general; minor planets, asteroids: general; ASTEROID 596 SCHEILA; INFRARED OBSERVATIONS; PHYSICAL-PROPERTIES; 133P/ELST-PIZARRO; ORIGIN; PERFORMANCE; FAMILIES; SYSTEM; LIMITS; TRAIL; Astronomy & Astrophysics

Abstract

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.

Journal Title

Astrophysical Journal Letters

Volume

748

Issue/Number

1

Publication Date

1-1-2012

Document Type

Article

Language

English

First Page

7

WOS Identifier

WOS:000301297500015

ISSN

2041-8205

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