IRTF Data Archive Program Information

# # Program information file # PROGRAM_ID 2022A063 PROGRAM_TITLE Do all outbursts of active Centaur 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 look alike? PROGRAM_INV1 Theodore Kareta PROGRAM_INV2 Charles Schambeau PROGRAM_INV3 Laura Woodney PROGRAM_INV4 Walter Harris PROGRAM_INV5 Yan Fernandez PROGRAM_SCICAT Centaurs / TNOs / KBOs PROGRAM_ABSTRACT_BEG As the direct evolutionary precursors to the vast majority of the inner Solar System's Jupiter Family Comets [JFCs], the modern properties of the Centaurs of the middle and outer Solar System are of great interest to help to understand the physical, chemical, and dynamical evolution that takes place as objects migrate from one population into the other. However, Centaurs are challenging observational targets due to their large heliocentric distance, low surface albedos [<10%], and the fact that only ~20% or less are active at any given time. However, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 is the only active Centaur which is continuously bright enough for telescopic investigation and is thus the prototypical object of its kind that others are compared to. We are proposing a 2.5-hour Target-of-Opportunity [ToO] program to observe an outburst of SW1 during the 2021B timeframe using the SpeX and MORIS instruments, motivated by previous observations of SW1 with the same instruments obtained by various teams that revealed its near-infrared reflective properties to change under different activity states [quiescence vs. outburst]. This instrumentation is ideal as it allows for a wide wavelength range over which to observe the slope of the spectrum, the high throughput necessary to detect weak-but-wide water ice absorption features, and the context images to compare with visible wavelength long-term survey projects dedicated to the object. Previous observations of the object during an outburst produced a high-quality spectrum with SNR>100 at wavelengths less affected by telluric absorption during a similar elapsed length of time as that proposed for here. We will use the retrieved spectrum to model the physical properties of the solid grains within SW1's coma, better understand which mechanisms could be powering its strong and enigmatic mass-loss, contextualize it within the broader population of Centaurs, and thus better understand the starting state of the JFCs. PROGRAM_ABSTRACT_END