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Are the main belt comets, comets?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2010

Javier Licandro
Affiliation:
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, c/Vía Láctea s/n, 38200 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. email: jlicandr@iac.es Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, E-38205 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
Humberto Campins
Affiliation:
Physics Department, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL, 32816, USA. email: campins@physics.ucf.edu
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Abstract

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We present the visible spectrum of asteroid-comet transition object 133P/Elst-Pizarro (7968), the first member of the new population of objects called Main Belt Comets (Hsieh & Jewitt 2006). The spectrum was obtained with the 4.2m William Herschel Telescope at the “Roque de los Muchachos” observatory. The orbital elements of 133P place it within the Themis collisional family, but the observed cometary activity during it last 3 perihelion passages also suggest a possible origin in the trans-Neptunian belt or the Oort Cloud, the known sources of comets. We found a clear similarity between our spectrum of 133P and those of other members of the Themis family such as 62 Erato, and a strong contrast with those of cometary nuclei, such as 162P/Siding-Spring. This spectral comparison leads us to conclude that 133P is unlikely to have a cometary origin. This conclusion is strengthened by spectral similarities with activated near-Earth asteroid 3200 Phaethon, and suggest that there are activated asteroids in the near-Earth asteroid and main belt populations with similar surface properties.

Type
Contributed Papers
Copyright
Copyright © International Astronomical Union 2010

References

Campins, H., Ziffer, J., Licandro, J.Pinilla-Alonso, N., Fernandez, Y., de Leon, J., Mothé-Diniz, T., & Binzel, R. 2006, AJ, 132, 1346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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Licandro, J., Campins, H., Hergenrother, C., & Lara, L. M. 2002, A&A, 398, L45Google Scholar
Licandro, J., Campins, H., Mothé-Diniz, T., Pinilla-Alonso, N., & de León, J. 2007, A&A, 461, 751Google Scholar
Licandro, J., Alvarez-Candal, A., de León, J., Pinilla-Alonso, N., Lazzaro, D., & Campins, H., 2008, A&A, 481, 861Google Scholar
Snodgrass, C., Lowry, S. C., & Fitzsimmons, A. 2008, MNRAS, 385, 737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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