HUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE OBSERVATIONS OF ACTIVE ASTEROID 324P/La SAGRA
AffiliationUniv Arizona, Lunar & Planetary Lab
minor planets, asteroids: general
minor planets, asteroids: individual (324P/La Sagra)
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherIOP PUBLISHING LTD
CitationHUBBLE SPACE TELESCOPE OBSERVATIONS OF ACTIVE ASTEROID 324P/La SAGRA 2016, 152 (3):77 The Astronomical Journal
JournalThe Astronomical Journal
Rights© 2016. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.
Collection InformationThis item from the UA Faculty Publications collection is made available by the University of Arizona with support from the University of Arizona Libraries. If you have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AbstractHubble Space Telescope observations of active asteroid 324P/La Sagra near perihelion show continued mass loss consistent with the sublimation of near-surface ice. Isophotes of the coma measured from a vantage point below the orbital plane are best matched by steady emission of particles having a nominal size. of. a similar to 100 mu m. The inferred rate of mass loss, dM(d)/dt similar to 0.2 kg s(-1), can be supplied by sublimation of water ice in thermal equilibrium with sunlight from an area as small as 930 m(2), corresponding to about 0.2% of the nucleus surface. Observations taken from a vantage point only 0.degrees 6. from the orbital plane of 324P set a limit to the velocity of ejection of dust in the direction perpendicular to the plane, V-perpendicular to < 1 m s(-1). Short-term photometric variations of the near-nucleus region, if related to rotation of the underlying nucleus, rule-out periods <= 3.8 hr and suggest that rotation probably does not play a central role in driving the observed mass loss. We estimate that, in the previous orbit, 324P lost about 4 x 10(7) kg in dust particles, corresponding to 6 x 10(-5) of the mass of a 550 m spherical nucleus of assumed density rho = 1000 kg m(-3). If continued, mass loss at this rate would limit the lifetime of 324P to similar to 1.6 x 10(4) orbits (about 10(5) years). To survive for the 100-400 Myr timescales corresponding to dynamical and collisional stability requires a duty cycle of 2 x 10(-4) <= f(d) <= 8 x 10(-4). Unless its time in orbit is overestimated by many orders of magnitude, 324P is revealed as a briefly active member of a vast population of otherwise dormant ice-containing asteroids.
VersionFinal published version
SponsorsAssociation of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc., under NASA [NAS 5-26555]; GO programs [14263, 14458]