Discovered by LONOEOS, the
Lowell Observatory Near Earth Asteroids Survey on
The light curve
This appears to be a new object fallen from the Oort Cloud and there are already indications that it is brightening very rapidly, possibly as fast as an 8th power law. Due to the changing geocentric distance which will be a much larger factor close to perihelion than the heliocentric distance the comet's light curve will be dominated by its position relative to the Earth, with the brightest magnitude at opposition. This will lead to a maximum in December 2002, followed by a significant fade and a new maximum in late 2003, well after perihelion.
We can see the initial very rapid rate of brightening in the light curve typical of a new and very gassy comet. This though turned into a rapid fade as opposition was reached and the comet started to recede from the Earth. The observed rate of fade is though much faster than can be accounted for by the increase in geocentric distance.
Image of C/2002 R3 (LONEOS) taken with a S/C 0.25-m f/3.7
Schmidt-Cassegrain + CCD from
The comet is captured passing close to the magnitude 15.5 spiral galaxy, UGC1432.
Josep Lluis Salto
MPC C02, Abrera. Catalonia (SPAIN)
Profile of the coma of C/2002 R3 (LONEOS).
Obtained by CCD photometry with apertures of 10, 20, 30, 40 and 60 arcseconds.
Ramón Naves & Montse Campàs
MPC 213, OBSERVATORIO MONTCABRER CABRILS (SPAIN)
Última actualización 25/01/2003