NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2017A-0330

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Program Information for 2017A-0330


PI: Matthew M Knight, U. of Maryland, mmk8a@astro.umd.edu
Address: Department of Astronomy, 1113 Physical Sciences Complex, Bldg. 415, College Park, MD 20740 USA

CoI: Michael Kelley, U. of Maryland
CoI: Colin Snodgrass, The Open University (UK)
CoI: Alan Fitzsimmons, Queen's University Belfast (UK)

Title: Roasting small bodies: Testing the effects of low perihelion distance on comets and asteroids

Abstract: Our recent investigation of ``sunskirting'' comet 322P/SOHO~1 revealed a confusing picture. 322P is on an apparently cometary orbit and is active near perihelion (perihelion distance, $q$, of 0.05 AU), but is inactive near 1 AU and has nucleus properties more consistent with an asteroid including color, a high albedo, and a fast rotation period. In order to determine if 322P's properties are intrinsic or evolutionary due to repeated close approaches to the Sun, we seek to better understand the population of small-$q$ objects. We propose to study comet 96P/Machholz~1, a short period comet with a small perihelion distance (0.12 AU) that is known to be dynamically related to other sunskirting comets seen by {it SOHO}. 96P has the smallest $q$ of any periodic comet discovered from Earth, making it critical for investigating differences between ``normal'' comets and those seen only by {it SOHO}. We will also acquire snapshot observations of several small-$q$ asteroids for comparison with 322P. We will conduct our observations remotely use SOI on SOAR to obtain broadband optical colors of all objects and constrain 96P's rotation period.

Program Type: Standard/Solar System

Scheduled Nights:
Run 1 (2017A):  SOAR/SOI -- 0.5n on Apr 06 2017
Run 2 (2017A):  SOAR/SOI -- 1n on Jul 01 2017


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



NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2017A-0330

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