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Finding the Next Interstellar Object - Insights from Pan-STARRS

Presentation #218.06 in the session Comets: Coma, Nucleus, Dynamics (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Finding the Next Interstellar Object - Insights from Pan-STARRS

The first interstellar object, ‘Oumuamua, was a serendipitous discovery coming from the Pan-STARRS search for Near-Earth Objects (NEOs). Pan-STARRS has seen many fast-moving objects, a number of which were not recovered, and it is possible that other interstellar objects may have been may have been among these, not being sufficiently observed to be discoveries. An object with a hyperbolic orbit may have a significantly different position compared to an NEO one night after it was initially observed, and recovery observations have always assumed an object with an elliptical orbit around the Sun. So recovery observations, that assume an object is an NEO may point to the wrong location to recover an interstellar object. And if other interstellar objects also have elongated shapes, then their light curve can hinder recovery. Pan-STARRS now attempts same-night self-recovery for most objects. The parallax that these self-recovery observations produces provides limits on the distance of the newly discovered object, and should help to show if an object is more distant with high intrinsic velocity. This should aid in the discovery of the next interstellar object. Same-night follow up is not always possible, however - sunrise, weather and moonrise can all prevent it.

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