(6478) Gault, the “double” tailed asteroid: evolution – 25 Mar. 2019

After a couple of weeks from our previous visit, we imaged (6478) Gault again, under good sky conditions. We have found a quite different shape: we see now only one tail, with a possible antitail feature and an interesting structure close to the nucleus.

(6478) Gault: 25 Mar. 2019

(6478) Gault: 25 Mar. 2019

The images above comes from the average and median combination of 24, 300-seconds exposures, unfiltered, remotely collected with the “Elena” (PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E) robotic unit available at the Virtual Telescope Project. The image scale is 1.2″/pixel. We also used an inverted palette, to underline the faintest region of the dusty tail.

As evident from the left images, there is a short antitail-like feature pointing East, while a more dense structure seems to be just West of the nucleus. This structure is marked in the image below. These days we are crossing the plane of Gault’s orbit, hence the antitail.

(6478) Gault: apparent structure East of the nucleus. 25 Mar. 2019

(6478) Gault: apparent structure East of the nucleus. 25 Mar. 2019

We find the tail pointing to PA=268 deg, while its length is about 7 arc-minutes.

We will monitor how this will evolve. You can find all our images of (6478) Gault here.

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