Tuesday, December 6, 2011

"Centaur" minor planet 2010 XZ78

2010 XZ78 is an object found on December 2010 by G96 professional survey and classified as a Centaur. To date, 17 total observations of 2010 XZ78 are present in the MPC database over interval: 2010 11 13.34 – 2011 01 08.25.

Centaurs, defined to have their perihelion outside of Jupiter (5.2 AU) and semimajor axis inside of Neptune (30.0 AU), have unstable orbits and have been extracted from the transneptunian objects (TNOs) population through perturbations by Neptune. So far only a few Centaurs have presented unambiguous evidence of cometary activity (see for example 174P/Echeclus). The first Centaur known to present cometary activity was Chiron.

We performed some follow-up of 2010 XZ78 on 2011 December 06, 2011 to lengthen the observational arc and to search for cometary activity. We found it roughly 2.2 arcminutes west of its nominal position. Stacking of 13 R-filtered exposures, 60-sec each, obtained remotely, from the Haleakala-Faulkes Telescope North on 2011, Dec. 6.4, through a 2.0-m f/10.0  Ritchey-Chretien + CCD, shows that this object has a stellar aspect, with its PSF profile being the same of the nearby field stars of similar brightness  (FWHM of 1.2").

Our image of 2010 XZ78:

by Giovanni Sostero, Nick Howes & Ernesto Guido

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