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2012 Hubble Fellows Symposium

Discovery of Main-Belt Comet P/2006 VW139 by Pan-STARRS1

Presented by: Henry Hsieh (Univ. of Hawaii – IfA)
Category: Science Symposium   Duration: 30 minutes   Broadcast date: March 05, 2012
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Discovery of Main-Belt Comet P/2006 VW139 by Pan-STARRS1 Henry Hsieh (Univ. of Hawaii - IfA) Main-belt comets exhibit cometary activity indicative of ice sublimation yet are dynamically indistinguishable from main-belt asteroids and appear to have formed in situ. Much of the current interest in studying these objects lies in the possible role of icy main-belt objects in the primordial delivery of terrestrial water. On 2011 November 5, main-belt asteroid (300163) 2006 VW139 (later designated comet P/2006 VW139) was discovered to exhibit comet-like activity by the Pan-STARRS1 survey telescope, and now appears to be just the sixth main-belt comet to be discovered to date. I will describe the methods used to discover this new main-belt comet, detail the follow-up analyses used to conclude that its activity is in fact driven by ice sublimation (and not by a recent impact), and discuss other recent and ongoing work in the study of these rare and still poorly understood objects.

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Henry Hsieh's presentation PDF document (.pdf)