Science and Exploration

New Active Asteroid 2015 VA108: A Citizen Science Discovery

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
February 27, 2023
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New Active Asteroid 2015 VA108: A Citizen Science Discovery
2015 VA108 (dashed arrow) with a pronounced tail (white arrows) oriented between the anti-motion (−v) and antisolar (− ) directions. These 114 s r-band (left) and 125 s g-band (right) DECam images were captured with the Blanco 4 m telescope (Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, Chile) on UT 2015 October 11 (Program 2014B-0404, PIs Schlegel and Dey, observers D. James, A. Dey, A. Patej). — astro-ph.EP

We announce the discovery of activity, in the form of a distinct cometary tail, emerging from main-belt asteroid 2015 VA108. Activity was first identified by volunteers of the Citizen Science project Active Asteroids (a NASA Partner).

We uncovered one additional image from the same observing run which also unambiguously shows 2015 VA108 with a tail oriented between the anti-solar and anti-motion vectors that are often correlated with activity orientation on sky. Both publicly available archival images were originally acquired UT 2015 October 11 with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) on the Blanco 4 m telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (Chile) as part of the Dark Energy Camera Legacy Survey.

Activity occurred near perihelion and, combined with its residence in the main asteroid belt, 2015 VA108 is a candidate main-belt comet, an active asteroid subset known for volatile sublimation.

Colin Orion Chandler, William J. Oldroyd, Chadwick A. Trujillo, William A. Burris, Henry H. Hsieh, Jay K. Kueny, Michele T. Mazzucato, Milton K. D. Bosch, Tiffany Shaw-Diaz

Comments: 4 pages, 1 figure
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2302.12722 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2302.12722v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
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Journal reference: Res. Notes AAS 7 27 (2023)
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Submission history
From: Colin Orion Chandler
[v1] Tue, 21 Feb 2023 19:00:01 UTC (347 KB)

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.