We report on observations of activity in near-Earth object (3552) Don Quixote using the Spitzer Space Telescope and ground-based telescopes around its 2018 perihelion passage. Spitzer observations obtained six months before perihelion show extended emission around the target's nucleus that is most likely caused by molecular band emission from either CO2 or CO, but we find no significant emission from dust. Ground-based optical observations taken close to perihelion reveal for the first time activity in the optical wavelengths, which we attribute to solar light reflected from dust particles. IRAM millimeter radio observations taken around the same time are unable to rule out CO as the driver of the molecular band emission observed with Spitzer. The comparison of the gas activity presented here with observations performed during Don Quixote's previous apparition suggests that activity in Don Quixote is recurrent. We conclude that (3552) Don Quixote is most likely a weakly active comet.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Space and Planetary Science