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The Multi-Tailed Main-Belt Comet P/2013 P5

8 Nov 2013, 10:45 UTC
The Multi-Tailed Main-Belt Comet P/2013 P5
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Cbet nr. 3639, issued on 2013, August 27, announced the discovery of a new comet (discovery magnitude ~20.9) in CCD exposures obtained on August 15 by the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Haleakala. The new comet has been designated P/2013 P5 (PANSTARRS). According to the description in the CBET, the object has a nuclear condensation with a stellar appearance and a thin tail that extends for approximately 30" towards position angle approximately 255 degrees.Orbiting at the inner edge of the main asteroid belt, with semimajor axis, eccentricity and inclination of 2.189 AU, 0.115 and 5.0° , respectively, the Tisserand parameter relative to Jupiter is TJ = 3.66. So this object belongs to the newly recognized class of body in the solar system known as active asteroids or main-belt comet - MBC. These objects are remarkable for having both the orbital characteristics of asteroids and the physical characteristics of comets: they look like comets because they show comae and tails but they have orbits interior to Jupiter's and Tisserand parameters substantially larger than 3, like asteroids. While some are suspected to contain water ice whose sublimation is responsible for the expulsion of dust, others are impact-produced while, for a majority, the origin is ...

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