Recurrent Activity from Active Asteroid (248370) 2005 QN173: A Main-belt Comet

Colin Orion Chandler, Chadwick A. Trujillo, Henry H. Hsieh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We present archival observations of main-belt asteroid (248370) 2005 QN173 (also designated 433P) that demonstrate this recently discovered active asteroid (a body with a dynamically asteroidal orbit displaying a tail or coma) has had at least one additional apparition of activity near perihelion during a prior orbit. We discovered evidence of this second activity epoch in an image captured 2016 July 22 with the DECam on the 4 m Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. As of this writing, (248370) 2005 QN173 is just the eighth active asteroid demonstrated to undergo recurrent activity near perihelion. Our analyses demonstrate (248370) 2005 QN173 is likely a member of the active asteroid subset known as main-belt comets, a group of objects that orbit in the main asteroid belt that exhibit activity that is specifically driven by sublimation. We implement an activity detection technique, wedge photometry, that has the potential to detect tails in images of solar system objects and quantify their agreement with computed antisolar and antimotion vectors normally associated with observed tail directions. We present a catalog and an image gallery of archival observations. The object will soon become unobservable as it passes behind the Sun as seen from Earth, and when it again becomes visible (late 2022) it will be farther than 3 au from the Sun. Our findings suggest (248370) 2005 QN173 is most active interior to 2.7 au (0.3 au from perihelion), so we encourage the community to observe and study this special object before 2021 December.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL8
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 20 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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