Spitzer Observations of Interstellar Object 1I/`Oumuamua

Status Report From: e-Print archive
Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2018

DE Trilling, M Mommert, JL Hora, D Farnocchia, P Chodas, J Giorgini, HA Smith, S Carey, CM Lisse, M Werner, A McNeill, SR Chesley, JP Emery, G Fazio, YR Fernandez, A Harris, M Marengo, M Mueller, A Roegge, N Smith, HA Weaver, K Meech, M Micheli

(Submitted on 20 Nov 2018)

1I/`Oumuamua is the first confirmed interstellar body in our Solar System. Here we report on observations of `Oumuamua made with the Spitzer Space Telescope on 2017 November 21--22 (UT). We integrated for 30.2~hours at 4.5 micron (IRAC channel 2). We did not detect the object and place an upper limit on the flux of 0.3 uJy (3sigma). This implies an effective spherical diameter less than [98, 140, 440] meters and albedo greater than [0.2, 0.1, 0.01] under the assumption of low, middle, or high thermal beaming parameter eta, respectively. With an aspect ratio for `Oumuamua of 6:1, these results correspond to dimensions of [240:40, 341:57, 1080:180] meters, respectively. We place upper limits on the amount of dust, CO, and CO2 coming from this object that are lower than previous results; we are unable to constrain the production of other gas species. Both our size and outgassing limits are important because `Oumuamua's trajectory shows non-gravitational accelerations that are sensitive to size and mass and presumably caused by gas emission. We suggest that `Oumuamua may have experienced low-level post-perihelion volatile emission that produced a fresh, bright, icy mantle. This model is consistent with the expected eta value and implied high albedo value for this solution, but, given our strict limits on CO and CO2, requires another gas species --- probably H2O --- to explain the observed non-gravitational acceleration. Our results extend the mystery of `Oumuamua's origin and evolution.

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Journal reference: Published in the Astronomical Journal, 156, 261 (2018)

DOI: 10.3847/1538-3881/aae88f

Cite as: arXiv:1811.08072 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1811.08072v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)

Submission history

From: David E. Trilling  

[v1] Tue, 20 Nov 2018 04:38:36 UTC (357 KB)

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