P/2010 A2 a Smashed Comet?

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Christopher K.
Posts: 4757
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

P/2010 A2 a Smashed Comet?

Post by Christopher K. » January 27th, 2010, 3:10 pm

On 7 January LINEAR discovered yet another comet. However, it seems to have a tail with no head! Its orbit, as Kelly Beatty says, is "looking less like a comet's and more like an asteroid's".

Javier Licandro and others (with images taken 14 January) found an asteroid ~2 arcseconds away and moving in the same trajectory. The dust trail of the double object--if it can be called that--is over 175,000 kilometers long.

One possibility is we are seeing the aftermath of a collision.

Dave Jewitt is declaring P/2010 A2 a "main-belt comet"--a new class of objects "remarkable for having both the orbital characteristics of asteroids and the physical characteristics of comets".

Observations were made with and at the Ageo Observatory, the Catalina Sky Survey, Magdalena Ridge Observatory, RAS Observatory, the Nordic Optical Telescope, Kitt Peak and the Great Shefford Observatory.

About LINEAR:
http://www.ll.mit.edu/mission/space/linear/

WIYN Images:
http://www2.ess.ucla.edu/~jewitt/MBC5.html

More Information:
http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/82074747.html
http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/mpec/K10/K10A32.html

Christopher K.
Posts: 4757
Joined: October 12th, 2009, 3:28 pm
Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Re: P/2010 A2 a Smashed Comet?

Post by Christopher K. » February 8th, 2011, 5:05 pm

The debris from the impact dispersed at a slow pace; a team including Jessica Agarwal of the European Space Agency estimates the impact event took place on or near 10 February 2009. The ejected material is approximately 100,000 tons and the smallest pieces are larger than anything usually associated with a comet. So the general consensus is two asteroids--one about 120 meters across and one about 5 meters across--collided.

More information:
Sky & Telescope, January 2011, p. 14.

Early image:
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap100203.html

The object's orbital elements and ephemeris:
http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/iau/Ephemeri ... 010A2.html

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