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Using TESS to Estimate Dimorphos’ Mass-Loss from DART through Dynamical Dust Models of its Tail

Presentation #510.05 in the session Asteroids: Planetary Defense (Oral Presentation)

Published onOct 23, 2023
Using TESS to Estimate Dimorphos’ Mass-Loss from DART through Dynamical Dust Models of its Tail

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impacted Dimorphos, the smaller component of binary asteroid (65803) Didymos, producing an ejecta cloud and a tail. The formation and evolution of the tail have been studied in both ground- and space-based data. The DART impact provides an opportunity to study the evolution of active asteroids in real time. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) is designed to continuously observe large regions of the sky to detect transiting exoplanets. However, TESS regularly detects Solar System objects like comets and asteroids, and its capabilities allow for deep imaging to study faint features like cometary dust tails and trails. Didymos entered TESS’s field of view on 27 December 2022 and was imaged until 18 January 2023. Didymos and its tail have been clearly identified in the data. During the observational window the TESS magnitude of the system within a 15,000 km-aperture varies from 13.4 to 12.8, and we have measured the tail to extend ~238,000 km from the Didymos system.

We will present an estimate for the total amount of dust lost by the asteroid between the time of impact and the time of observation, and we will compare our results to those derived from other observations from the same timeframe. We compile, stack, and combine several TESS full frame images to produce 30-minute exposures. These images are processed through a pipeline that removes stars and scattered light from the data. We then shift and register the asteroid in each image and co-add the target-centered frames. We will employ a particle ejection model that uses a Monte Carlo engine to compute the location of grains relative to the asteroid based on probability density functions for grain size, velocity vector, and ejection time. These models will be used to reproduce the observed brightness profile of the tail and provide constraints for tail particle size and velocity, and mass-loss rate.

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