Volume 629, September 2019
|Number of page(s)||16|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||17 September 2019|
Near-infrared polarimetric study of near-Earth object 252P/LINEAR: an implication of scattered light from the evolved dust particles
Department of Physics and Astronomy, Seoul National University,
Republic of Korea
2 Department of Astronomy, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
3 Okayama Observatory, Kyoto University, 3037-5 Honjo, Kamogata, Asakuchi, Okayama 719-0232, Japan
4 National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, 2-21-1 Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588, Japan
5 Astrobiology Center, 2-21-1 Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588, Japan
6 Faculty of Science, Kagoshima University, 21-24 Korimoto, Kagoshima, Kagoshima 890-8580, Japan
7 Department of Physics, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Meguro, Tokyo 152-8551, Japan
Accepted: 8 July 2019
Context. Comets undergo resurfacing due to solar radiation, while their primordial interiors remain unchanged. Multi-epoch observations of comets enable us to characterize a change in sublimation pattern as a function of heliocentric distance, which in turn provides information on the dust environments of comets.
Aims. We aim to constrain the size and porosity of ejected dust particles from comet 252P/LINEAR and their evolution near perihelion via near-infrared (NIR) multiband polarimetry. A close approach of the comet to the Earth in March 2016 (~0.036 au) provided a rare opportunity for the sampling of the comet at high spatial resolution.
Methods. We made NIR JHKS-band (1.25–2.25 μm) polarimetric observations of the comet for 12 days near perihelion, interspersed between broadband optical (0.48–0.80 μm) imaging observations over four months. In addition, a dynamical simulation of the comet was performed 1000 yr backward in time.
Results. We detected two discontinuous brightness enhancements of 252P/LINEAR. Before the first enhancement, the NIR polarization degrees of the comet were far lower than those of ordinary comets at a given phase angle. Soon after the activation, however, they increased by ~13% at most, showing unusual blue polarimetric color over the J and H bands (−2.55% μm−1 on average) and bluing of the dust color in both J−H and H−KS. Throughout the event, the polarization vector was marginally aligned perpendicular to the scattering plane (i.e., θr = 4.6°–10.9°). The subsequent postperihelion reactivation of the comet lasted for approximately 1.5 months, with a factor of ~30 times pre-activation dust mass-loss rates in the RC band.
Conclusions. The marked increase in the polarization degree with blue NIR polarimetric color is reminiscent of the behavior of a fragmenting comet D/1999 S4 (LINEAR). The most plausible scenario for the observed polarimetric properties of 252P/LINEAR is an ejection of predominantly large (well within the geometrical optics regime) and compact dust particles from the desiccated surface layer. We conjecture that the more intense solar heating that the comet has received in the near-Earth orbit would cause the paucity of small fluffy dust particles around the nucleus of the comet.
Key words: comets: individual: 252P/LINEAR / polarization / meteorites, meteors, meteoroids
© ESO 2019
Current usage metrics show cumulative count of Article Views (full-text article views including HTML views, PDF and ePub downloads, according to the available data) and Abstracts Views on Vision4Press platform.
Data correspond to usage on the plateform after 2015. The current usage metrics is available 48-96 hours after online publication and is updated daily on week days.
Initial download of the metrics may take a while.