Detecting active comets in the SDSS

Michael Solontoi, Željko Ivezić, Andrew A. West, Mark Claire, Mario Jurić, Andrew Becker, Lynne Jones, Patrick B. Hall, Steve Kent, Robert H. Lupton, Gillian R. Knapp, Tom Quinn, James E. Gunn, Donald P. Schneider, Craig Loomis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Using a sample of serendipitously discovered active comets in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), we develop well-controlled selection criteria for greatly increasing the efficiency of comet identification in the SDSS catalogs. After follow-up visual inspection of images to reject remaining false positives, the total sample of SDSS comets presented here contains 19 objects, roughly one comet per 10 million other SDSS objects. The good understanding of selection effects allows a study of the population statistics, and we estimate the apparent magnitude distribution to r ∼ 18, the ecliptic latitude distribution, and the comet distribution in SDSS color space. The most surprising results are the extremely narrow range of colors for comets in our sample (e.g. root-mean-square scatter of only ∼0.06 mag for the g - r color), and the similarity of comet colors to those of jovian Trojans. We discuss the relevance of our results for upcoming deep multi-epoch optical surveys such as the Dark Energy Survey, Pan-STARRS, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), and estimate that LSST may produce a sample of about 10,000 comets over its 10-year lifetime.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)605-618
Number of pages14
JournalIcarus
Volume205
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2010

Fingerprint

comets
comet
color
telescopes
ecliptic
estimates
dark energy
catalogs
inspection
time measurement
statistics
life (durability)

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

Cite this

Solontoi, M., Ivezić, Ž., West, A. A., Claire, M., Jurić, M., Becker, A., ... Loomis, C. (2010). Detecting active comets in the SDSS. Icarus, 205(2), 605-618. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2009.07.042
Solontoi, Michael ; Ivezić, Željko ; West, Andrew A. ; Claire, Mark ; Jurić, Mario ; Becker, Andrew ; Jones, Lynne ; Hall, Patrick B. ; Kent, Steve ; Lupton, Robert H. ; Knapp, Gillian R. ; Quinn, Tom ; Gunn, James E. ; Schneider, Donald P. ; Loomis, Craig. / Detecting active comets in the SDSS. In: Icarus. 2010 ; Vol. 205, No. 2. pp. 605-618.
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Solontoi, M, Ivezić, Ž, West, AA, Claire, M, Jurić, M, Becker, A, Jones, L, Hall, PB, Kent, S, Lupton, RH, Knapp, GR, Quinn, T, Gunn, JE, Schneider, DP & Loomis, C 2010, 'Detecting active comets in the SDSS', Icarus, vol. 205, no. 2, pp. 605-618. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2009.07.042

Detecting active comets in the SDSS. / Solontoi, Michael; Ivezić, Željko; West, Andrew A.; Claire, Mark; Jurić, Mario; Becker, Andrew; Jones, Lynne; Hall, Patrick B.; Kent, Steve; Lupton, Robert H.; Knapp, Gillian R.; Quinn, Tom; Gunn, James E.; Schneider, Donald P.; Loomis, Craig.

In: Icarus, Vol. 205, No. 2, 01.02.2010, p. 605-618.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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AU - Solontoi, Michael

AU - Ivezić, Željko

AU - West, Andrew A.

AU - Claire, Mark

AU - Jurić, Mario

AU - Becker, Andrew

AU - Jones, Lynne

AU - Hall, Patrick B.

AU - Kent, Steve

AU - Lupton, Robert H.

AU - Knapp, Gillian R.

AU - Quinn, Tom

AU - Gunn, James E.

AU - Schneider, Donald P.

AU - Loomis, Craig

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N2 - Using a sample of serendipitously discovered active comets in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), we develop well-controlled selection criteria for greatly increasing the efficiency of comet identification in the SDSS catalogs. After follow-up visual inspection of images to reject remaining false positives, the total sample of SDSS comets presented here contains 19 objects, roughly one comet per 10 million other SDSS objects. The good understanding of selection effects allows a study of the population statistics, and we estimate the apparent magnitude distribution to r ∼ 18, the ecliptic latitude distribution, and the comet distribution in SDSS color space. The most surprising results are the extremely narrow range of colors for comets in our sample (e.g. root-mean-square scatter of only ∼0.06 mag for the g - r color), and the similarity of comet colors to those of jovian Trojans. We discuss the relevance of our results for upcoming deep multi-epoch optical surveys such as the Dark Energy Survey, Pan-STARRS, and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), and estimate that LSST may produce a sample of about 10,000 comets over its 10-year lifetime.

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Solontoi M, Ivezić Ž, West AA, Claire M, Jurić M, Becker A et al. Detecting active comets in the SDSS. Icarus. 2010 Feb 1;205(2):605-618. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.icarus.2009.07.042