37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 11 Comets
Oral, Monday, September 5, 2005, 4:20-6:00pm, Law LG19

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[11.01] Search for Active Main-Belt Asteroids: The SAMBA Project

H. H. Hsieh, D. Jewitt (University of Hawaii)

We are conducting a deep optical survey of selected main-belt asteroids in search of comet-like behavior (comae or dust trails) like that observed for apparent Themis-family asteroid 7968 Elst-Pizarro (also 133P/Elst-Pizarro, hereafter EP). The surprising find of comet-like dust emission by EP (Hsieh, Jewitt, and Fernández, 2004, AJ 127, 2997) can be explained if (1) EP is a comet that has somehow evolved onto an asteroidal orbit, perhaps via the influence of cometary outgassing, or (2) EP is a native member of the asteroid belt on which preserved ice has recently become exposed. If EP is indeed an icy asteroid and not a lost comet, we would not expect uniqueness. A search for objects exhibiting comet-like behavior in the main belt, particularly among the Themis family among which EP itself resides, could reveal other icy bodies. We will present preliminary results (including activity level limits) for over 100 Themis family asteroids imaged as part of just such a search that we are currently conducting using telescopes on Mauna Kea and Cerro Tololo.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: hsieh@ifa.hawaii.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #3
© 2004. The American Astronomical Soceity.