Archive for March 1st, 2011

The passage of comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) through the Main Asteroid Belt

Rolando Ligustri

Comet Elenin has passed through the Main Asteroid Belt, now it lies in the rarified part near the outside edge. In connection with the fact that the comet’s orbit is unique in that it has a small inclination for a long-period comet (a second example is comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin) the decision was made to calculate close encounters of the comet in the main asteroid belt.

The search for encounters in the interval from February 18 to June 18, 2011 was made with the help of the programming complex ArtemisSIMULATOR. Refinement of the encounter distance was made with the EPOS program. As a result, 4 encounters were found:

– February 28 with the asteroid 1999 TV67 at a distance of 1 774 707 km (0.012 a.u.);

– April 7 with the asteroid 4336 Jasniewicz, at a distance of 1 119 713 км (0.008 а.u.);

– April 19 with asteroid 2009 TJ9, at a distance of 325 428 км (0.002 а.u.);

– May 20 with asteroid 1999 RQ176, at a distance of 338 403 км (0.002 а.u.)

Of special interest are the last two encounters; the asteroids pass through the rather dense dust tail of the comet. It might be possible to photograph such encounters with the help of large telescopes. Unfortunately, it is not possible to show the influence of the gravitational perturbation of the comet on the asteroid with the help of earth-based observations.

March 2011
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