Monday, July 16, 2012

Unusual Minor Planet 2012 NJ

MPEC 2012-N19, issued on 2012 July 14, reports the discovery by J75 OAM Observatory, La Sagra with a 0.45-m f/2.8 reflector + CCD of the unusual minor planet 2012 NJ. According to the latest orbital solution available, this object moves along a comet-like orbit with an Inclination of 84.32 deg,  Eccentricity = 0.85, Perihelion distance = 1.29 AU and Period = 24.23 years.

We performed some follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp, remotely from the H06 ITelescope network (near Mayhill, NM) on  2012, Jul. 14.3, through a 0.51-m f/6.9 reflector + CCD.  No cometary features are visible in our images, the object has the same aspect of the nearby field stars of similar brightness.

Our confirmation image, stack of 10x10-second exposures (click on it for a bigger version):

Below you can see an animation showing the movement of 2012 NJ (each frame is 10-second exposure). Click on the thumbnail for a bigger version:

On mpml mailing list you can find an interesting discussion about the orbit of this object: 

UPDATE - July 18, 2012

According to Cbet 3178, a 35" tail in p.a. 235 deg has been reported by Gerhard J. Hahn on stacked and single images taken by Stefano Mottola using the 1.23-m telescope on Calar Alto on July 16, 17, and 18 UT. 2012 NJ is now comet P/2012 NJ (LA SAGRA)

Credit: Department of Asteroid and Comet Research, DLR Institute of Planetary Research

by Ernesto Guido, Giovanni Sostero & Nick Howes

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