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Title: THE EXTRAORDINARY MULTI-TAILED MAIN-BELT COMET P/2013 P5

Hubble Space Telescope observations of main-belt comet P/2013 P5 reveal an extraordinary system of six dust tails that distinguish this object from any other. Observations two weeks apart show dramatic morphological change in the tails while providing no evidence for secular fading of the object as a whole. Each tail is associated with a unique ejection date, revealing continued, episodic mass loss from the 0.24 ± 0.04 km radius nucleus over the last five months. As an inner-belt asteroid and probable Flora family member, the object is likely to be highly metamorphosed and unlikely to contain ice. The protracted period of dust release appears inconsistent with an impact origin, but may be compatible with a body that is losing mass through a rotational instability. We suggest that P/2013 P5 has been accelerated to breakup speed by radiation torques.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5]
  1. Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles, 595 Charles Young Drive East, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1567 (United States)
  2. Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Max-Planck-Str. 2, D-37191 Katlenburg-Lindau (Germany)
  3. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, MD 20723 (United States)
  4. Space Telescope Science Institute, 3700 San Martin Drive, Baltimore, MD 21218 (United States)
  5. Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, 1629 East University Boulevard, Tucson, AZ 85721-0092 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22364128
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 778; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ASTEROIDS; ASTROPHYSICS; COMETS; COSMIC DUST; ICE; MASS TRANSFER; MORPHOLOGICAL CHANGES; PLANETS; SPACE; STELLAR WINDS; TELESCOPES; TORQUE; VELOCITY