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Title: EPISODIC EJECTION FROM ACTIVE ASTEROID 311P/PANSTARRS

We examine the development of the active asteroid 311P/PANSTARRS (formerly, 2013 P5) in the period from 2013 September to 2014 February using high resolution images from the Hubble Space Telescope. This multi-tailed object is characterized by a single, reddish nucleus of absolute magnitude H ≥ 18.98 ± 0.10, corresponding to an equal-area sphere of radius ≤200 ± 20 m (for assumed geometric albedo 0.29 ± 0.09). We set an upper limit to the radii of possible companion nuclei at ∼10 m. The nucleus ejected debris in nine discrete episodes, spread irregularly over a nine month interval, each time forming a distinct tail. Particles in the tails range from about 10 μm to at least 80 mm in radius, and were ejected at speeds <1 m s{sup –1}. The ratio of the total ejected dust mass to the nucleus mass is ∼3×10{sup –5}, corresponding to a global surface layer ∼2 mm thick, or to a deeper layer covering a smaller fraction of the surface. The observations are incompatible with an origin of the activity by impact or by the sublimation of entrapped ice. This object appears to be shedding its regolith by rotational (presumably YORP-driven) instability. Long-term fading of the photometry (months) is attributed to gradual dissipationmore » of near-nucleus dust. Photometric variations on short timescales (<0.7 hr) are probably caused by fast rotation of the nucleus. However, because of limited time coverage and dilution of the nucleus signal by near-nucleus dust, we have not been able to determine the rotation period.« less
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, Justus-von-Liebig-Weg 3, D-37077 Gottingen (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:
22364632
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 798; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ALBEDO; ASTEROIDS; COMETS; COSMIC DUST; ICE; IMAGES; LAYERS; MASS; ORIGIN; PHOTOMETRY; PLANETS; ROTATION; SUBLIMATION; SURFACES; TELESCOPES