Thursday, April 17, 2014

Comet 209P/LINEAR & its Meteor Shower

209P/LINEAR is a periodic comet discovered by the Lincoln Laboratory Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) survey on five images taken on 2004, February 3.40 (discovery magnitude ~18.1). Reported by LINEAR as an apparent asteroidal object, it has been found to show a narrow 1'.1 tail in p.a. 274 deg (slightly expanding toward the end) on CCD images obtained by R. H. McNaught with the 1.0-m f/8 reflector at Siding Spring on Mar. 30.8 UT. This comet has been assigned the permanent designation 209P on 2008, December 12 (previous designation were P/2008 X2 (LINEAR) = P/2004 CB).

We performed follow-up measurements of this object on 2014, April 14.95 with the 2.0-m f/10.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD telescope of La Palma-Liverpool (J13 MPC code). You can see our image below with the comet a about magnitude ~17. (click on it for a bigger version). 


According to a prediction by E. Lyytinen and P. Jenniskens, comet 209P/LINEAR will possibly cause a big meteor shower on May 24, 2014. On May 29, 2014 this comet will pass just 0.055 AU from Earth or about ~8 million km (while the perihelion,  i.e. closest approach to the Sun, will be on May 6, 2014) making it one of the closest comet approaches in history. Comet 209P/LINEAR will be at magnitude ~10 around the time of the shower.

The main source of activity should become 1898-1919 trails, however some meteors could be produced by the earlier trails of the comet, down to 1763 trail, which is the oldest computed trail, and even earlier. The computed time of maximum acitivity is May 24, 2014, at 7:21 UT, theoretical radiant is RA=122.8, Dec=+79.0 (in the constellation Camelopardalis).

Exact timing and activity level is difficult to estimate due to the limited physical observations of this comet. The estimate of level of the shower is based on available photometric measurements of the comet. Estimates give a ZHR of 100/hr to 400/hr, which is an excellent outburst! But this shower can become an exceptional one. "Indeed, given the current orbit of the comet (from JPL HORIZONS ephemerids database), ALL THE TRAILS EJECTED BETWEEN 1803 AND 1924 DO FALL IN THE EARTH PATH IN MAY 2014!!!" As a consequence, this shower might as well be a storm.  Below you can see a graph with the location of the meteoroid stream ejected by the comet at the Earth in 2014:

Credit: IMCCE 2013

According to the image below (showing the hemisphere of Earth that will be facing the incoming dust particles from Comet  209P/LINEAR when the activity peaks on May 24, 2014), skywatchers in southern Canada and the continental  U.S. will be especially well positioned to watch the sky show. 


Credit: M. Maslov

A recent paper by Q. Ye and P. A. Wiegert reanalyzes the optical observations of 209P/LINEAR obtained during its 2009 apparition, They found that the comet is relatively depleted in dust production, with Afρ at 1 cm level within eight months around its perihelion. This feature suggested that this comet may be currently transitioning from typical comet to a dormant comet. Given that the comet is relatively depleted in dust production they concluded that a meteor storm may be unlikely. We are analyzing our recent observation to calculate the Afρ parameter and we'll post the results here as soon as they are available.

by E. Guido, N. Howes, B. Mueller, M. Nicolini, N. Samarasinha

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

New Comet: C/2014 F1 (HILL)

Cbet nr. 3840, issued on 2014, April 01, announces the discovery of a comet (~ magnitude 18.6) on CCD images taken on 2014, March 29.4 by R. E. Hill with the Catalina Sky Survey's 0.68-m Schmidt telescope. The new comet has been designated C/2014 F1 (HILL).

We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 10 unfiltered exposures, 60-sec each, obtained remotely on 2014, March 30.4 from H06 (iTelescope network - New Mexico) through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + f/4.5 focal reducer, shows that this object is a comet: coma about 5" in diameter elongated toward PA 215.

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version).
 
 
M.P.E.C. 2014-G02 assigns the following very preliminary parabolic orbital elements to comet C/2014 F1: T 2013 Oct. 27.18; e= 1.0; Peri. = 13.93; q = 3.62;  Incl.= 108.91

by Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes & Martino Nicolini

Friday, March 14, 2014

New Comet: C/2014 E2 (JACQUES)

Cbet nr. 3828, issued on 2014, March 14, announces the discovery of a comet (~ magnitude 14.7) on CCD images taken by  C. Jacques, E. Pimentel and J. Barros using a 0.45-m f/2.9 reflector at the SONEAR Observatory near Oliveira, Brazil. The new comet has been designated C/2014 E2 (JACQUES).

We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 19 unfiltered exposures, 30-sec each, obtained remotely from MPC code Q62 (iTelescope, Siding Spring) on 2014, March 13.6 through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD, shows that this object is a comet: very bright coma nearly 2 arcmin in diameter elongated in PA 10.

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version).


M.P.E.C. 2014-E84 assigns the following very preliminary parabolic orbital elements to comet C/2014 E2: T 2014 June 29.52; e= 1.0; Peri. = 349.10; q = 0.60;  Incl.= 157.19

Big Congrats to our friend Cristovao Jacques and all the SONEAR team for the discovery of their second comet! Click here to find more info about their first comet.

UPDATE - March 16, 2014

According to the very preliminary orbit, comet C/2014 E2 will have a close approach with planet Venus on 2014, July 13 at 0.088 AU.

 Discovery images of C/2014 E2

Credit: SONEAR

Below you can see a graph generated using the software Orbitas and showing the predicted magnitude (in red) versus the elongation (click on the image for a bigger version). A word of caution: as always with comets, the future magnitudes reported here are only indicative.




by Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes & Martino Nicolini

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Close Approach of Asteroid 2014 DX110

The asteroid 2014 DX110 was discovered (at magnitude ~20) on 2014, February 28 by F51 Pan-STARRS 1 , Haleakala survey.

2014 DX110 has an estimated size of 19 m - 43 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=25.7) and it will have a close approach with Earth at about 0.9 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0023 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 2100 UT on 2014, March 05. This asteroid will reach the peak magnitude ~14.8 on March 05, 2014.

We performed some follow-up measurements of this object on 2014, March 05.6, remotely from the Q62 iTelescope network (Siding Spring) through a 0.32-m f/9.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD + f/6.1 focal reducer.

Below you can see our image taken with the asteroid at magnitude ~15.2 and moving at ~145.84 "/min. At the moment of its close approach in the next few hours, 2014 DX110 will move at ~509"/min. Click on the image below to see a bigger version. North is up, East is to the left (the asteroid is trailed in the image due to its fast speed).


According to a preliminary light-curve published on MPML mailing list by B. Warner, this asteroid is a fast rotator with a period of 0.1204 h (7.2 min) and amplitude 0.36 mag.  Click on the image below to see a bigger version.


Credit: Brian Warner

by Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes & Martino Nicolini

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Close Approach of Asteroid 2006 DP14

The Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) 2006 DP14 was discovered on 2006, February 23 by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid  Research (LINEAR) program. PHAs are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.

2006 DP14 has an estimated size of 460 m - 1.0 km (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=18.8) and it had a close approach with Earth at about 6.2 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0160 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 1905 UT on 2014, February 10. This asteroid reached the peak magnitude ~12.8 on February 11, 2014. Shortly before and after the closest approach, this asteroid will be far enough north for Goldstone to track, and it is expecting to be a strong imaging target. Goldstone tracks are scheduled on February 8, 12, and 13.

We performed some follow-up measurements of this object on 2014, February 11.6, remotely from the Q62 iTelescope network (Siding Spring) through a 0.32-m f/9.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD + f/6.1 focal reducer.

Below you can see our image taken with the asteroid at magnitude ~12.8 and moving at ~82.0 "/min. At the moment of the close approach 2006 DP14 was moving at ~142"/min. Click on the image below to see a bigger version. North is up, East is to the left (the asteroid is trailed in the image due to its fast speed).


Below you can see a short animation showing the movement of 2006 DP14 (two consecutive 120-second exposure). Click here or on the thumbnail for a bigger version:

Animation Close Approach of Asteroid 2006 DP14 - 2014, February 11 by E. Guido photo 2006_DP14_animation_Q62_11_February_2014_zpsee0eb2e8.gif

UPDATE - February 22, 2014

Goldostone has been able to obtain radar images of asteroid 2006 DP14 on February 12, 2014. See image below (click on it for a bigger version).

Credit: NASA

According to this JPL/NASA press release: "Delay-Doppler radar imaging revealed that the asteroid is about 1,300 feet (400 meters) long, 660 feet (200 meters) wide, and shaped somewhat like a big peanut. The asteroid's period of rotation is about six hours. The asteroid is of a type known as a "contact binary" because it has two large lobes on either end that appear to be in contact. Previous radar data from Goldstone and the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico has shown that at least 10 percent of near-Earth asteroids larger than about 650 feet (200 meters) have contact binary shapes like that of 2006 DP14. The data were obtained over an interval of 2.5 hours as the asteroid completed about half a revolution. The resolution is about 60 feet (19 meters) per pixel."




by Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes & Martino Nicolini

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Possible Supernova 2014L in M99 galaxy

Following the posting on the Central Bureau's Transient Object Confirmation Page about a possible Supernova in M99 spiral galaxy (TOCP Designation: PSN J12184868+1424435) we performed some follow-up of this object through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + f/4.5 focal reducer from MPC Code H06 (iTelescope, New Mexico).

On our images taken on January 28.4, 2014 we can confirm the presence of an optical counterpart with unfiltered CCD magnitude 15.7 and at coordinates:

R.A. = 12 18 48.73, Decl.= +14 24 44.3

(equinox 2000.0; UCAC-3 catalogue reference stars).

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version)


An animation showing a comparison between our confirmation image of this transient in M99 and archive image by 2-meter telescope FTN - LCOGT (dated back to April 18, 2013). Click here or on the thumbnail below for a bigger version:

 Possible Supernova in M99 - 28 Jan. 2014 - by E. Guido, N. Howes & M. Nicolini photo animation_m99_transient_28_jan_2014_zps9c5c3672.gif

Before the discovery of this transient,  three supernovae were observed in M99: 1967H (type II), 1972Q (type IIP)and 1986I (type IIP).

UPDATE - January 30, 2014

According to Cbet 3795 issued on January 30, PSN J12184868+1424435 is a type-Ic supernova with official designation 2014L. The supernova has been discovered on unfiltered CCD images taken on Jan. 26.83 UT using the 0.6-m NAOC Schmidt telescope in the course of the THU-NAOC Transient Survey (TNTS). 

by Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes & Martino Nicolini

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

SN 2014J - Bright Supernova in M82

Following the posting on the Central Bureau's Transient Object Confirmation Page about a possible Supernova in M82 (TOCP Designation: PSN J09554214+6940260) we performed some follow-up of this object through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + f/4.5 focal reducer from MPC Code H06 (iTelescope, New Mexico).

On our images taken on January 22.3, 2014 we can confirm the presence of an optical counterpart with unfiltered CCD magnitude 11.3 and R-filtered magnitude 11.0 at coordinates:

R.A. = 09 55 42.17, Decl.= +69 40 25.9

(equinox 2000.0; UCAC-3 catalogue reference stars).

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version):


An animation showing a comparison between our confirmation image of supernova in M82 and archive image by 2-meter telescope FTN - LCOGT (dated back to 2013-11-22). Click here or on the thumbnail below for a bigger version:


Animation of Supernova in M82 - January 22, 2014 by E. Guido, N. Howes, M. Nicolini photo new_animation_supernova_m82_22_gennaio_2014_zpsbd4116c7.gif

According to the ATel #5786 this is a Type Ia supernova with a Si II velocity of 20000 km/s (spectrum of this transient has been obtained with the Dual Imaging Spectrograph on the ARC 3.5m telescope).

UPDATE - January 22, 2014 - 1600UT

We have received an e-mail from the UCL (University College London) media office reporting that students and staff at UCL's teaching observatory, the University of London Observatory, have spotted this supernova in M82 on the night of January 21.

According to UCL website: "At 19:20 last night (21 January), a team of students assisted by Dr Steve Fossey spotted the exploding star in nearby galaxy Messier 82 (the Cigar Galaxy). The observations have been submitted to the International Astronomical Union's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, which is the official arbiter of supernova discoveries. Their official report has not yet been issued, and the supernova is therefore still nameless, but UCL appears to have been among the first, if not the first, to spot the event."

While we wait the release of the official CBET by Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) with the discovery credit, congrats to Dr Steve Fossey and his students for this discovery. While this is not the nearest supernova to Earth since the Supernova 1987A (the Type II SN 1993J in M81 was at essentially the same distance within the uncertainties as this new one in M82 and SN 2004am and SN 2008iz -detected only at radio wavelengths- occurred within M82 itself), this is the closest supernova Type Ia to Earth since SN 1972E.

Below you can see the discovery image (click on it for a bigger version).

Credit: UCL/University of London Observatory/Steve Fossey/Ben Cooke/Guy Pollack/Matthew Wilde/Thomas Wright

UPDATE - January 23, 2014 - 0800UT

According to CBET 3792 issued on January 23, Stephen J. Fossey, University of London Observatory (ULO), University College, London, reported the discovery of an apparent supernova (magnitude R = 10.5) in the galaxy NGC 3034 = M82 on CCD images obtained by himself (and assisted by students B. Cooke, G. Pollack, M. Wilde, and T. Wright) in poor sky conditions with a ULO 35-cm Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (+ SBIG STL-6303E camera) at Mill Hill, London, on Jan. 21.805 UT. The supernova has been designated SN 2014J.


UPDATE - January 23, 2014 - 1100UT

New animation showing a comparison between an image taken on January 23, 2014 and an archive image (dated back to 2013-11-22) both by 2-meter Faulkes Telescope North (operated by LCOGT). Animation by E. Guido, N. Howes & M. Nicolini. Click here or on the thumbnail below for a bigger version.


Supernova SN 2014J in M82 photo SN_2014J_M82_23_January_2014_FTN_zps58e35247.gif

UPDATE - March 02, 2014
 
On January 31, the Hubble Space Telescope imaged SN 2014J as it approached its peak brightness. The image, shown here as an inset, was taken in visible light with Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3. This image was superimposed into a photo mosaic of the entire galaxy taken in 2006 with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Click on the image below for a bigger version.

Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Goobar (Stockholm University), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)


by Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes & Martino Nicolini