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Continued PSP/WISPR Observations of a Phaethon-related Dust Trail

AuthorBattams, Karl; Gutarra-Leon, Angel; Gallagher, Brendan; Knight, Matthew; Stenborg, Guillermo; Tanner, Sarah; Linton, Mark; Szalay, Jamey; Kelley, Michael; Howard, Russell;
KeywordsParker Data Used; Asteroids; Meteoroid dust clouds; Near-Earth objects; Small Solar System bodies; 72; 1039; 1092; 1469; Astrophysics - Earth and Planetary Astrophysics
AbstractWe present an update to the first white-light detections of a dust trail observed closely following the orbit of asteroid (3200) Phaethon, as seen by the Wide-field Imager for the Parker Solar Probe instrument on the NASA Parker Solar Probe mission. Here, we provide a summary and analysis of observations of the dust trail over nine separate mission encounters between 2018 October and 2021 August that saw the spacecraft approach to within 0.0277 au of the orbit of Phaethon. We find the photometric and estimated dust mass properties to be in line with those in the initial publication, with a visual (V) magnitude of V \raisebox-0.5ex\textasciitilde 16.1 \ensuremath\pm 0.3 pixel$^-1$, corresponding to a surface brightness of 26.1 mag arcsec$^-2$, and an estimated mass of dust within the range 10$^10$-10$^12$ kg depending on the assumed dust properties. However, the key finding of this survey is the discovery that the dust trail does not perfectly follow the orbit of Phaethon, with a clear separation noted between them that increases as a function of true anomaly, though the trail may differ from Phaethon s orbit by as little as 1\textdegree in periapsis.
Year of Publication2022
Number of Pages81
Date Publishedsep