Cometary Science Newsletter

November 2022
Michael S. P. Kelley (

Refereed Articles

Abstracts of articles in press or recently published. Limited to 3000 characters.

Asteroid (3200) Phaethon: results of polarimetric, photometric, and spectral observations

  • Kiselev, N.N. [1], Rosenbush, V.K. [2], Petrov, D. [1], Luk'yanyk, I. [2], Ivanova, O. [2, 3, 4], Pit, N. [1], Antoniuk, K. 1
  1. Crimean Astrophysical Observatory, Crimea
  2. Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Astronomical Observatory, Ukraine
  3. Astronomical Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovak Republic
  4. Main Astronomical Observatory, National Academy of Sciences, Ukraine

We present results of polarimetric, photometric, and spectral observations of the near-Earth asteroid (3200) Phaethon carried out at the 6-m BTA telescope of the Special Astrophysical Observatory and the 2.6-m and 1.25-m telescopes of the Crimean Astrophysical Observatory over a wide range of phase angles during its close approach to the Earth at the end of 2017 (α = 19°-135°) and in 2020 at α = 52.2°. Using our and other available in literature data, we found that the maximum degree of linear polarization of Phaethon in the V band is Pmax = (45 ± 1) per cent at the phase angle αmax = 124.0° ± 0.4°, whereas the inversion angle αinv = 21.4° ± 1.2° and polarimetric slope is h = (0.326 ± 0.027) per cent per degree. Using the dependence 'polarimetric slope - albedo,' we have found the geometric albedo of asteroid Phaethon to be pv = 0.060 ± 0.005. This value falls into the lower range of albedo values for asteroids determined by different methods. The mean colour indices U-B = 0.207 m ± 0.053 m and B-V = 0.639 m ± 0.054 m of the asteroid are derived at heliocentric and geocentric distances 1.077 au and 0.102 au, respectively, and phase angle α = 23.78°. The absolute magnitude of Phaethon is V(1,1,0) = 14.505 m ± 0.059 m. The effective diameter of Phaethon is estimated from obtained absolute magnitude and geometrical albedo, it is equal to 6.8 ± 0.3 km. The best fit to the observed polarimetric data was obtained with the Sh-matrix model of conjugated random Gaussian particles composed of Mg-rich silicate (90 per cent) and amorphous carbon (10 per cent).

Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (Published)

DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stac1559 arXiv: 2206.00911

On the dust of tailless Oort-cloud comet C/2020 T2 (Palomar)

  • Kwon, Y. G. 1
  • Masiero, J. R. 2
  • Markkanen, J. 1
  1. IGeP/Technical University of Braunschweig, Germany
  2. IPAC/California Institute of Technology, USA

We report our new analysis of Oort-cloud comet C/2020 T2 (Palomar) (T2) observed at 2.06 au from the Sun (phase angle of 28.5 deg) about two weeks before perihelion. T2 lacks a significant dust tail in scattered light, showing a strong central condensation of the coma throughout the apparition, reminiscent of so-called Manx comets. Its spectral slope of polarized light increases and decreases in the J (1.25 um) and H (1.65 um) bands, respectively, resulting in an overall negative (blue) slope (-0.31+/-0.14 % um^-1) in contrast to the red polarimetric color of active comets observed at similar geometries. The average polarization degree of T2 is 2.86+/-0.17 % for the J and 2.75+/-0.16 % for the H bands. Given that near-infrared wavelengths are sensitive to the intermediate-scale structure of cometary dust (i.e., dust aggregates), our light-scattering modeling of ballistic aggregates with different porosities and compositions shows that polarimetric properties of T2 are compatible with low-porosity (~66 %), absorbing dust aggregates with negligible ice contents on a scale of 10–100 um (density of ~652 kg m^-3). This is supported by the coma morphology of T2 which has a viable beta (the relative importance of solar radiation pressure on dust) range of <~10^-4. Secular evolution of the r-band activity of T2 from archival data reveals that the increase in its brightness accelerates around 2.4 au pre-perihelion, with its overall dust production rate ~100 times smaller than those of active Oort-cloud comets. We also found an apparent concentration of T2 and Manx comets toward ecliptic orbits. This paper underlines the heterogeneous nature of Oort-cloud comets which can be investigated in the near future with dedicated studies of their dust characteristics.

Astronomy & Astrophysics (In press)

arXiv: 2210.13091