Friday, August 21, 2009

Unusual asteroid 2009 QY6

M.P.E.C. 2009-Q32 , issued on 2009 Aug. 20, annunced the discovery of an intriguing object: 2009 QY6.


It was picked-up on Aug. 17 with the 1.0-m f/2.15 reflector + CCD of the Lincoln Laboratory ETS team (NM), while it was moving at about 1.2"/min in the morning sky, through the constellation of Aries.

This object has an extremely peculiar orbit (a= 7.35 AU, e= 0.72, i= 137 deg, P= 20.0 years, as for 2009, Aug. 21 MPC website), very similar to that of a comet.

We performed some follow-up of 2009 QY6 while it was still listed in the NEO-CP website (labelled as "BP85104") from the Castelmartini Obs (MPC#160) on 2009, Aug. 19.0, and from the RAS Observatory (MPC#H06) on Aug. 19.4 and 20.4.

In all our stacks, we were consistently unable to identify any cometary feature on this object. Down to the limit of our seeing condition, we always obtained a FWHM profile of 2009 QY6 that was virtually undistinguishible compared to that of nearby field stars having similar brightness.

Stack from Castelmartini Obs.:


Stacks from RAS-Mayhill:


According to its preliminary orbit, this curious object might well be a "Damocloid" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damocloid_asteroid), a few kilometers in diameter. It will reach its perihelion on 2009, OCt. 1, at about 2 AU from the Sun, and it's well worth to keep 2009 QY6 under close scrutiny, in order to check any arise of residual degassing.

Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero, Enrico Prosperi and Paul Camilleri

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