Jupiter Co-Orbital Comet P/2023 V6 (PANSTARRS): Orbital History and Modern Activity State

Theodore Kareta, John W. Noonan, Kathryn Volk, Ryder H. Strauss, David Trilling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The discovery of the transient Jupiter co-orbital comet P/2019 LD2 (ATLAS) drew significant interest. Not only will LD2 transition between being a Centaur and a Jupiter-family comet (JFC) in 2063, the first time this process can be observed as it happens, it is also very active for its large heliocentric distance. We present observations and orbital integrations of the newly discovered transient Jupiter co-orbital comet P/2023 V6 (PANSTARRS), the second such object known. Despite similar modern orbits, V6 is significantly (15×) less active than LD2 and most JFCs as determined via Af ρ measurements at the same R H . We find that V6 is co-orbital between 2020 and 2044, twice the duration of LD2, but it will not become a JFC soon. We interpret these differences in activity as evolutionary, with V6 having lost a significant fraction of its near-surface ice compared to LD2 by previously being warmer. While V6's pre-encounter orbit was somewhat warmer than LD2's, future thermal modeling will be needed to understand if this can explain their differences or if a more significant difference further into the past is required. This is more evidence that LD2 is a pristine and ice-rich object, and thus it may display very strong activity when it becomes a JFC. We use the differences between V6 and LD2 to discuss the interpretation of cometary activity at large heliocentric distances as well as the small end of the cratering record of the Galilean satellites. Continuing observations of both objects are highly encouraged.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL5
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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