Volume 650, June 2021
|Number of page(s)||10|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||08 June 2021|
Activity of the Jupiter co-orbital comet P/2019 LD2 (ATLAS) observed with OSIRIS at the 10.4 m GTC★
Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC),
C/ Vía Láctea s/n,
2 Departamento de Astrofísica, Universidad de La Laguna, 38206 La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain
3 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, CSIC, Glorieta de la Astronomía s/n, 18008 Granada, Spain
4 Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid, Spain
5 AEGORA Research Group, Facultad de Ciencias Matemáticas, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria, 28040 Madrid, Spain
6 GRANTECAN, Cuesta de San José s/n, 38712 Breña Baja, La Palma, Spain
7 Observatório Nacional, Rio de Janeiro 20921-400, Brazil
8 Florida Space Institute, 12354 Research Parkway Partnership 1 Building, Suite 214, Orlando, FL 32826-0650, USA
Accepted: 12 March 2021
Context. The existence of comets with heliocentric orbital periods close to that of Jupiter (i.e., co-orbitals) has been known for some time. Comet 295P/LINEAR (2002 AR2) is a well-known quasi-satellite of Jupiter. However, their orbits are not long-term stable, and they may eventually experience flybys with Jupiter at very close range, close enough to trigger tidal disruptions like the one suffered by comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1992.
Aims. Our aim was to study the observed activity and the dynamical evolution of the Jupiter transient co-orbital comet P/2019 LD2 (ATLAS) and its dynamical evolution.
Methods. We present results of an observational study of P/2019 LD2 carried out with the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) that includes image analyses using a Monte Carlo dust tail fitting code to characterize its level of cometary activity, and spectroscopic studies to search for gas emission. We also present N-body simulations to explore its past, present, and future orbital evolution.
Results. Images of P/2019 LD2 obtained on May 16, 2020, show a conspicuous coma and tail, but the spectrum obtained on May 17, 2020, does not exhibit any evidence of CN, C2, or C3 emission. The comet brightness in a 2.6′′ aperture diameter is r′ = 19.34 ± 0.02 mag, with colors (g′− r′) = 0.78 ± 0.03, (r′− i′) = 0.31 ± 0.03, and (i′− z′) = 0.26 ± 0.03. The temporal dependence of the dust loss rate of P/2019 LD2 can be parameterized by a Gaussian function having a full width at half maximum of 350 days, with a maximum dust mass loss rate of 60 kg s−1 reached on August 15, 2019. The total dust loss rate from the beginning of activity until the GTC observation date (May 16, 2020) is estimated at 1.9 × 109 kg. Comet P/2019 LD2 is now an ephemeral co-orbital of Jupiter, following what looks like a short arc of a quasi-satellite cycle that started in 2017 and will end in 2028. On January 23, 2063, it will experience a very close encounter with Jupiter at perhaps 0.016 au; its probability of escaping the solar system during the next 0.5 Myr is estimated to be 0.53 ± 0.03.
Conclusions. Photometry and tail model results show that P/2019 LD2 is a kilometer-sized object, in the size range of the Jupiter-family comets, with a typical comet-like activity most likely linked to sublimation of crystalline water ice and clathrates. Its origin is still an open question. Our numerical studies give a probability of this comet having been captured from interstellar space during the last 0.5 Myr of 0.49 ± 0.02 (average and standard deviation), 0.67 ± 0.06 during the last 1 Myr, 0.83 ± 0.06 over 3 Myr, and 0.91 ± 0.09 during the last 5 Myr.
Key words: comets: general / comets: individual: P/2019 LD2 (ATLAS) / methods: numerical / methods: observational
© ESO 2021
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