Sublimation-driven activity in main-belt comet 313P/GIBBS

Hsieh, Henry H.; Hainaut, Olivier; Novaković, Bojan; Bolin, Bryce; Denneau, Larry; Fitzsimmons, Alan; Haghighipour, Nader; Kleyna, Jan; Kokotanekova, Rosita; Lacerda, Pedro; Meech, Karen J.; Micheli, Marco; Moskovitz, Nick; Schunova, Eva; Snodgrass, Colin; Wainscoat, Richard J.; Wasserman, Lawrence and Waszczak, Adam (2015). Sublimation-driven activity in main-belt comet 313P/GIBBS. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 800(1), article no. L16.



We present an observational and dynamical study of newly discovered main-belt comet 313P/Gibbs. We find that the object is clearly active both in observations obtained in 2014 and in precovery observations obtained in 2003 by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, strongly suggesting that its activity is sublimation-driven. This conclusion is supported by a photometric analysis showing an increase in the total brightness of the comet over the 2014 observing period, and dust modeling results showing that the dust emission persists over at least three months during both active periods, where we find start dates for emission no later than 2003 July 24 ± 10 for the 2003 active period and 2014 July 28 ± 10 for the 2014 active period. From serendipitous observations by the Subaru Telescope in 2004 when the object was apparently inactive, we estimate that the nucleus has an absolute R-band magnitude of HR = 17.1 ± 0.3, corresponding to an effective nucleus radius of re ~ 1.00 ± 0.15 km. The object's faintness at that time means we cannot rule out the presence of activity, and so this computed radius should be considered an upper limit. We find that 313P's orbit is intrinsically chaotic, having a Lyapunov time of Tl = 12,000 yr and being located near two three-body mean-motion resonances with Jupiter and Saturn, 11J-1S-5A and 10J+12S-7A, yet appears stable over >50 Myr in an apparent example of stable chaos. We furthermore find that 313P is the second main-belt comet, after P/2012 T1 (PANSTARRS), to belong to the ~155 Myr old Lixiaohua asteroid family.

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