Comet C/2011 J2 Linear splitting: a new image (29 Sept. 2014) and further evolution
After we were informed about the discovery of a nucleus splitting event for comet C/2011 J2 Linear, providing prompt follow-up at that time, at Virtual Telescope the comet was constantly monitored and measured, in order to track the dynamical evolution of its fragment.
The image above comes from seven, 300-seconds unfiltered exposures, remotely collected with the PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope Project. They were combined using a median technique, to limit the potential interference of faint stars with the subtle fragment. The images were also used to perform astrometry, sent to the Minor Planet Center.
Thanks to our extended coverage, we tried to do some calculation to see how the relative position of the fragment versus the main nucleus evolved. Using data from 13, 24 and 29 Sept., we’ve obtained the following numbers for the relative position of fragment b respect to the main nucleus (separation in arcseconds and position angle of the fragment vs the main nucleus; the time interval in days respect to the first image is also given ):
13 Sept. 2014: (10.4″;14.4°), t=t0=0.0d
24 Sept. 2014: (13.3″;16.1°), t=t1=11.1d
29 Sept. 2014: (15.6″;20.3°), t=t2=16.0d
The animation below shows the images used in the analysis: the increasing separation is well evident.
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