NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2010A-0285

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Proposal Information for 2010A-0285


PI: Joel Parker, Southwest Research Institute, joel@boulder.swri.edu
Address: Planetary Science Directorate, Suite 300, 1050 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO 80302, USA

CoI: Lynne Jones, University of Washington
CoI: Jean-Marc Petit, Obs. des Sciences de l'Univers de Besancon
CoI: Philippe Rousselot, Obs. des Sciences de l'Univers de Besancon

Title: Scrutinizing the Extreme TNO 2009 MS9

Abstract: We propose to perform accurate multi-color photometry and rotational period measurements of the newly discovered trans-Neptunian object (TNO) 2009 MS9. This extraordinary object was discovered by our team during a CFHT survey dedicated to the search of high ecliptic latitudes. It is of special interest because it has unusually large inclination, semi- major axis, and eccentricity (i/a/e ~ 68\deg/400 AU/0.97). It represents a new and exciting clue regarding the origin of Halley-type comets (which are nearly-isotropic comets with orbital periods typically 20<P<200 years). Their origin still is not clearly understood and this object could constitute the first example of a key step in the processes that change a TNO into a Halley-type comet. In this context it is very important to accurately characterize its physical properties. 2009 MS9 is also particularly interesting because with a perihelion passage of ~11 AU in Feb 2013, it provides a unique opportunity to view a very large object that has been extremely cold for thousands of years commence cometary activity. This presents us with a fantastic opportunity to study a naked cometary nucleus; however, as the object approaches the Sun, the increasing likelihood of the appearance of an obscuring coma means that the physical properties of the nucleus should be measured as soon as possible. We propose to make the essential photometric and lightcurve measurements from Kitt Peak and monitor for activity from Gemini.


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