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Proposal Information for 2014B-0246


PI: Jayadev Rajagopal, NOAO, jrajagopal@noao.edu
Address: KPNO, 950 N. Cherry Ave, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA

CoI: David Jewitt, UCLA
CoI: Susan Ridgway, NOAO
CoI: Ralf Kotulla, University of Wisconsin
CoI: Wilson Liu, WIYN Observatory

Title: Deep wide-field imaging of main belt comets and asteroids

Abstract: We propose to continue a deep imaging study, using the pODI optical imager on the WIYN telescope, of selected regions of the main asteroid belt that contain a known main-belt comet (MBC), an asteroid that shows evidence of significant mass loss, seen as transient, comet-like tails and comae. Significant weather losses have limited us to just 3.5 usable nights out of a total of 8 awarded (over 2013 and 2014A) so far. We have made the first deep, wide-field images of three new MBCs, P/2010 A2, P/2013 P5 and P/2013 R3 and an older target, 300163, to pursue the amount and mechanism of the mass loss. A recent asteroid survey (TALCS) done at CFHT did not find new MBC candidates, but claimed that there is statistically significant evidence for low level activity, measured over the ensemble of asteroids. If true, this would be of significant scientific interest in that they could be repositories of primordial water, and a supply for volatiles on earth, and dust in debris disks in general. To test this possibility and further characterize the mass loss in known MBC activity, we use the considerable pODI field-of-view to search for direct evidence of very low-level mass-loss activity in the sample of main belt asteroids that will also be detected to significantly deeper levels than TALCS with better resolution. We request 4 nights in 2014B.


National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360



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