Six Years of Sustained Activity in (6478) Gault

Colin Orion Chandler, Jay Kueny, Annika Gustafsson, Chadwick A. Trujillo, Tyler D. Robinson, David E Trilling

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Abstract

We present archival observations demonstrating that main belt asteroid (6478) Gault has an extensive history of comet-like activity. Outbursts have taken place during multiple epochs since 2013 and at distances extending as far as 2.68 au, nearly aphelion. (6478) Gault is a member of the predominately S-type (i.e., volatile-poor) Phocaea family; no other main belt object of this type has ever shown more than a single activity outburst. Furthermore, our data suggest that this is the longest duration of activity caused by a body spinning near the rotational breakup barrier. If activity is indeed unrelated to volatiles, as appears to be the case, (6478) Gault represents a new class of object, perpetually active due to rotational spin-up.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL12
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume877
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - May 20 2019

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Keywords

  • comets: individual ((6478) Gault)
  • minor planets, asteroids: individual ((6478) Gault)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Chandler, C. O., Kueny, J., Gustafsson, A., Trujillo, C. A., Robinson, T. D., & Trilling, D. E. (2019). Six Years of Sustained Activity in (6478) Gault. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 877(1), [L12]. https://doi.org/10.3847/2041-8213/ab1aaa