Time-series and Phase-curve Photometry of the Episodically Active Asteroid (6478) Gault in a Quiescent State Using APO, GROWTH, P200, and ZTF

April 2021 • 2021ApJ...911L..35P

Authors • Purdum, Josiah N. • Lin, Zhong-Yi • Bolin, Bryce T. • Sharma, Kritti • Choi, Philip I. • Bhalerao, Varun • Hanuš, Josef • Kumar, Harsh • Quimby, Robert • van Roestel, Joannes C. • Zhai, Chengxing • Fernandez, Yanga R. • Lisse, Carey M. • Bodewits, Dennis • Fremling, Christoffer • Ryan Golovich, Nathan • Hsu, Chen-Yen • Ip, Wing-Huen • Ngeow, Chow-Choong • Saini, Navtej S. • Shao, Michael • Yao, Yuhan • Ahumada, Tomás • Anand, Shreya • Andreoni, Igor • Burdge, Kevin B. • Burruss, Rick • Chang, Chan-Kao • Copperwheat, Chris M. • Coughlin, Michael • De, Kishalay • Dekany, Richard • Delacroix, Alexandre • Drake, Andrew • Duev, Dmitry • Graham, Matthew • Hale, David • Kool, Erik C. • Kasliwal, Mansi M. • Kostadinova, Iva S. • Kulkarni, Shrinivas R. • Laher, Russ R. • Mahabal, Ashish • Masci, Frank J. • Mróz, Przemyslaw J. • Neill, James D. • Riddle, Reed • Rodriguez, Hector • Smith, Roger M. • Walters, Richard • Yan, Lin • Zolkower, Jeffry

Abstract • We observed the episodically active asteroid (6478) Gault in 2020 with multiple telescopes in Asia and North America and found that it is no longer active after its recent outbursts at the end of 2018 and the start of 2019. The inactivity during this apparition allowed us to measure the absolute magnitude of Gault of Hr = 14.63 ± 0.02, Gr = 0.21 ± 0.02 from our secular phase-curve observations. In addition, we were able to constrain Gault's rotation period using time-series photometric lightcurves taken over 17 hr on multiple days in 2020 August, September, and October. The photometric lightcurves have a repeating ≲0.05 mag feature suggesting that (6478) Gault has a rotation period of ∼2.5 hr and may have a semispherical or top-like shape, much like the near-Earth asteroids Ryugu and Bennu. The rotation period of ∼2.5 hr is near the expected critical rotation period for an asteroid with the physical properties of (6478) Gault, suggesting that its activity observed over multiple epochs is due to surface mass shedding from its fast rotation spin-up by the Yarkovsky-O'Keefe-Radzievskii-Paddack effect.


IPAC Authors

Frank Masci

Senior Scientist