Systematic characterization of and search for activity in potentially active asteroids

Michael Mommert, David E. Trilling, Joseph L. Hora, Cassandra Lejoly, Annika Gustafsson, Matthew Knight, Nick Moskovitz, Howard A. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

We report on our long-term observational campaign to characterize and monitor a select sample of 75 dynamically selected dormant comet candidates and six near-Sun asteroids. Both asteroid subpopulations can be considered likely to display comet-like activity. Dormant comets are currently inactive comet nuclei that can still harbor volatiles in subsurface layers, whereas near-Sun asteroids have extremely low perihelion distances and are thus prone to catastrophic disruption. As a result of our 4 yr long observing campaign, we find only dormant comet 3552 Don Quixote to show activity during our program. We furthermore find that (51 ± 10)% of dynamically selected dormant comet candidates in near-Earth space have comet-like physical properties, as well as (56 ± 16)% of dynamically selected dormant comet candidates in other parts of the solar system. All of our near-Sun asteroid sample targets are of nonprimitive nature, suggesting that primitive near-Sun asteroids are more likely to disrupt than nonprimitives. We furthermore find a significant fraction of our near-Sun asteroid sample to display extremely blue V-I color indices, potentially hinting at physical alterations of surface material close to the Sun.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number10
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Volume1
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Geophysics

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