Volume 562, February 2014
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||11 February 2014|
A photometric search for active Main Belt asteroids
1 Physics Department, University of Split, Nikole Tesle 12, 21000 Split, Croatia
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, Apt 3004, 18008 Granada, Spain
3 Institute for Astro- and Particle Physics, University of Innsbruck, Technikerstr. 25/8, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
4 Observatorio Astronómico Los Molinos DICYT-MEC Cno. de los Molinos 5769, 12400 Montevideo, Uruguay
Received: 10 April 2013
Accepted: 20 December 2013
It is well known that some Main Belt asteroids show comet-like features. A representative example is the first known Main Belt comet 133P/(7968) Elst-Pizarro. If the mechanisms causing this activity are too weak to develop visually evident comae or tails, the objects stay unnoticed. We are presenting a novel way to search for active asteroids, based on looking for objects with deviations from their expected brightnesses in a database. Just by using the MPCAT-OBS Observation Archive we have found five new candidate objects that possibly show a type of comet-like activity, and the already known Main Belt comet 133P/(7968) Elst-Pizarro. Four of the new candidates, (315) Constantia, (1026) Ingrid, (3646) Aduatiques, and (24 684) 1990 EU4, show brightness deviations independent of the object’s heliocentric distance, while (35 101) 1991 PL16 shows deviations dependent on its heliocentric distance, which could be an indication of a thermal triggered mechanism. The method could be implemented in future sky survey programmes to detect outbursts on Main Belt objects almost simultaneously with their occurrence.
Key words: minor planets, asteroids: general / comets: general / astronomical databases: miscellaneous / methods: data analysis / techniques: photometric
© ESO, 2014
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