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Rising from Ashes or Dying Flash? The Mega Outburst of Small Comet 289P/Blanpain in 2013

Ye, Quanzhi and Clark, David L. (2019) Rising from Ashes or Dying Flash? The Mega Outburst of Small Comet 289P/Blanpain in 2013. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 878 (2). Art. No. L34. ISSN 2041-8213.

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Jupiter-family comet 289P/Blanpain was first discovered in 1819 and was then lost for ~200 years, only to be rediscovered in 2003 as a small, weakly active comet. The comet is associated with the Phoenicids, an otherwise minor meteor shower that produced significant outbursts in 1956 and 2014. The shower points to the existence of significant mass-loss events of P/Blanpain in recent history. P/Blanpain was recovered during an apparent large outburst in 2013 July at an appreciable heliocentric distance of 3.9 au, with brightness increase of 9 mag, making it one of the largest comet outbursts ever observed. Here we present an analysis of archival data taken by several telescopes. We find that the 2013 outburst has produced ~10^8 kg of dust, which accounts for a modest fraction (~1%) of the mass of P/Blanpain's nucleus as measured in 2004. Based on analysis of long-term light curve and modeling of coma morphology, we conclude that the 2013 outburst was most likely driven by the crystallization of amorphous water ice triggered by a spin-up disruption of the nucleus. A dust dynamical model shows that a small fraction of the dust ejecta will reach the Earth in 2036 and 2041, but are only expected to produce minor enhancements to the Phoenicid meteor shower. The 2013 outburst of P/Blanpain, though remarkable for a comet of small size, does not necessary imply a catastrophic disruption of the nucleus. The upcoming close encounter of P/Blanpain in 2020 January will provide an opportunity to examine the current state of the comet.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription
Ye, Quanzhi0000-0002-4838-7676
Clark, David L.0000-0002-1203-764X
Additional Information:© 2019. The American Astronomical Society. Received 2019 April 2; revised 2019 May 29; accepted 2019 June 2; published 2019 June 17. We thank an anonymous referee for a careful review. We are grateful to Robert Weryk for checking the Pan-STARRS images at our request, and to Davide Farnocchia for updating the JPL orbit solution for P/Blanpain. Q.-Z. Ye is supported by the GROWTH project funded by the National Science Foundation under grant No. 1545949. This research used the facilities of the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre operated by the National Research Council of Canada with the support of the Canadian Space Agency. This research used observations obtained with MegaPrime/MegaCam, a joint project of CFHT and CEA/DAPNIA, at the Canada–France–Hawaii Telescope (CFHT), which is operated by the National Research Council (NRC) of Canada, the Institut National des Science de l'Univers of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) of France, and the University of Hawaii. This research also used data obtained with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), which was constructed by the Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaborating institutions: Argonne National Lab, University of California Santa Cruz, University of Cambridge, Centro de Investigaciones Energeticas, Medioambientales y Tecnologicas-Madrid, University of Chicago, University College London, DES-Brazil consortium, University of Edinburgh, ETH-Zurich, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Institut de Ciencies de l'Espai, Institut de Fisica d'Altes Energies, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat, University of Michigan, National Optical Astronomy Observatory, University of Nottingham, Ohio State University, University of Pennsylvania, University of Portsmouth, SLAC National Lab, Stanford University, University of Sussex, and Texas A&M University. Funding for DES, including DECam, has been provided by the U.S. Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Ministry of Education and Science (Spain), Science and Technology Facilities Council (UK), Higher Education Funding Council (England), National Center for Supercomputing Applications, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos, Fundação Carlos Chagas Filho de Amparo a Pesquisa, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico and the Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia (Brazil), the German Research Foundation-sponsored cluster of excellence "Origin and Structure of the Universe" and the DES collaborating institutions. This research has made use of data and/or services provided by the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center. Facilities: Blanco - Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory's 4 meter Blanco Telescope, CFHT. - Software: Astropy (Astropy Collaboration et al. 2018), FROSTI (Clark 2014), Jupyter Notebooks (Kluyver et al. 2016), Matplotlib (Hunter 2007), MERCURY6 (Chambers & Migliorini 1997).
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Canadian Space Agency (CSA)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:comets: individual (289P&Blanpain) ; meteorites, meteors, meteoroids
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190617-104718381
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Official Citation:Quanzhi Ye and David L. Clark 2019 ApJL 878 L34
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:96468
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:17 Jun 2019 18:18
Last Modified:18 Nov 2019 20:44

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