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Outburst activity in comets-II. A multiband photometric monitoring of comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1

AuthorsTrigo-Rodríguez, Josep María CSIC ORCID ; García-Hernández, Domingo Aníbal; Sánchez, Albert; Lacruz, J.; Davidsson, Björn J. R.; Rodríguez, D.; Pastor, S.; Reyes, J. A. de los
Multi-band photometric
Solar System
Issue Date2010
PublisherRoyal Astronomical Society
CitationMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
AbstractWe have carried out a continuous multi-band photometric monitoring of the nuclear activity of comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 from 2008 to 2010. Our main aim has been to study the outburst mechanism on the basis of a follow-up of the photometric variations associated with the release of dust. We used a standardized method to obtain the 10 arc-sec nucleus photometry in the V, R, and I filters of the Johnson-Kron-Cousins system, being accurately calibrated with standard Landolt stars. Production of dust in the R and I bands during the 2010 Feb. 3 outburst has been also computed. We conclude that the massive ejection of large (optically-thin) particles from the surface at the time of the outburst is the triggering mechanism to produce the outburst. Ulterior sublimation of these ice-rich dust particles during the following days induces fragmentation, generating micrometer-sized grains that increase the dust spatial density to produce the outburst in the optical range due to scattering of sun light. The material leaving the nucleus adopts a fan-like dust feature, formed by micrometer-sized particles that are decaying in brightness as it evolved outwards. By analyzing the photometric signal measured in a standardized 10-arcsec aperture using the Phase Dispersion Minimization technique we have found a clear periodicity of 50 days. Remarkably, this value is also consistent with an outburst frequency of 7.4 outbursts/year deduced from the number of outbursts noticed during the effective observing time.
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