PI: Jayadev Rajagopal, NOAO, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: 950 N. Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
CoI: David Jewitt, UCLA
CoI: Susan Ridgway, NOAO
Title: Deep wide-field imaging of main belt comets and asteroids in their fields
Abstract: We propose to conduct 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. We will take the first deep, wide-field images of these known active asteroids. In addition, we will 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. A recent search for MBC candidates in the TALCS asteroid survey 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. In order to test this possibility and further characterize the mass-loss in known MBC activity, we propose to observe two ~ 1 sq. degree fields around known MBCs to significantly deeper levels than TALCS with better resolution. We were awarded two nights last semester, more than half of which was lost to weather. We were nevertheless able to a) implement robust non-sidereal guiding with good PSF, b) image the full extent of the tail of the MBC P/2010 A2 for the first time and c) characterize the pODI instrument calibration. We request two nights this semester.