Main-belt Comet P/2012 T1 (PANSTARRS)

July 2013 • 2013ApJ...771L...1H

Authors • Hsieh, Henry H. • Kaluna, Heather M. • Novaković, Bojan • Yang, Bin • Haghighipour, Nader • Micheli, Marco • Denneau, Larry • Fitzsimmons, Alan • Jedicke, Robert • Kleyna, Jan • Vereš, Peter • Wainscoat, Richard J. • Ansdell, Megan • Elliott, Garrett T. • Keane, Jacqueline V. • Meech, Karen J. • Moskovitz, Nicholas A. • Riesen, Timm E. • Sheppard, Scott S. • Sonnett, Sarah • Tholen, David J. • Urban, Laurie • Kaiser, Nick • Chambers, K. C. • Burgett, William S. • Magnier, Eugene A. • Morgan, Jeffrey S. • Price, Paul A.

Abstract • We present initial results from observations and numerical analyses aimed at characterizing the main-belt comet P/2012 T1 (PANSTARRS). Optical monitoring observations were made between 2012 October and 2013 February using the University of Hawaii 2.2 m telescope, the Keck I telescope, the Baade and Clay Magellan telescopes, Faulkes Telescope South, the Perkins Telescope at Lowell Observatory, and the Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope. The object's intrinsic brightness approximately doubles from the time of its discovery in early October until mid-November and then decreases by ~60% between late December and early February, similar to photometric behavior exhibited by several other main-belt comets and unlike that exhibited by disrupted asteroid (596) Scheila. We also used Keck to conduct spectroscopic searches for CN emission as well as absorption at 0.7 μm that could indicate the presence of hydrated minerals, finding an upper limit CN production rate of Q CN < 1.5 × 1023 mol s-1, from which we infer a water production rate of Q_H_2O<5\times 10^{25} mol s-1, and no evidence of the presence of hydrated minerals. Numerical simulations indicate that P/2012 T1 is largely dynamically stable for >100 Myr and is unlikely to be a recently implanted interloper from the outer solar system, while a search for potential asteroid family associations reveals that it is dynamically linked to the ~155 Myr old Lixiaohua asteroid family.

Some of the data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation, the Magellan Telescopes located at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile, and the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope, which is a joint project of the Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, e Inovação (MCTI) da República Federativa do Brasil, the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), and Michigan State University (MSU).


IPAC Authors

Laurie Chu

Postdoctoral Research Associate