CHaracterization of active main belt object P/2012 F5 (Gibbs): A possible impacted asteroid

R. Stevenson, E. A. Kramer, J. M. Bauer, J. R. Masiero, A. K. Mainzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


In this work, we characterize the recently discovered active main belt object P/2012 F5 (Gibbs), which was discovered with a dust trail >7′ in length in the outer main belt, 7 months prior to aphelion. We use optical imaging obtained on UT 2012 March 27 to analyze the central condensation and the long trail. We find B-band and R-band apparent magnitudes of 20.96 ± 0.04mag and 19.93 ± 0.02mag, respectively, which give an upper limit on the radius of the nucleus of 2.1km. The geometric scattering cross-section of material in the trail was 4 × 108 m2, corresponding to a mass of 5 × 107 kg. Analysis of infrared images taken by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer in 2010 September reveals that the object was below the detection limit, suggesting that it was less active than it was during 2012, or possibly inactive, just six months after it passed through perihelion. We set a 1σ upper limit on its radius during this time of 2.9km. P/2012 F5 (Gibbs) is dynamically stable in the outer main belt on timescales of 1Gyr, pointing toward an asteroidal origin. We find that the morphology of the ejected dust is consistent with it being produced by a single event that occurred on UT 2011 July 7 ± 20days, possibly as the result of a collision with a small impactor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number142
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 10 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • comets: individual (P/2012 F5 (Gibbs))
  • minor planets, asteroids: individual (P/2012 F5)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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