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Searching for water around (24) Themis with SOFIA

Presentation #411.07 in the session Asteroids: Main Belt (Poster + Lightning Talk)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Searching for water around (24) Themis with SOFIA

We report on the analysis of far-IR spectroscopic observations of (24) Themis obtained in 2022 with the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT), onboard the now retired Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). Generally speaking, evaluating today’s water content in main belt asteroids is an important step to retrace their dynamic history, the migration of the location of the water snow-line as well as current surface processes. Detections of surface water ice on several objects, including (24) Themis, has been interpreted as evidence of the existence of an interior ice reservoir replenishing the surface. By targeting the H218O transition at 547 GHz, once can directly identify cold sublimated gas forming an exosphere around an asteroid. The upper-limit on water production rate derived from the GREAT/SOFIA observations is presented in context with other tentative searches for water around (24) Themis and other Main belt asteroids, and the potential for searches with NIRSpec/JWST as demonstrated by the recent gas water detection on the main-belt comet 238P/Read.

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