Initial Characterization of Active Transitioning Centaur, P/2019 LD2 (ATLAS), using Hubble, Spitzer, ZTF, Keck, APO and GROWTH Visible & Infrared Imaging and Spectroscopy


We present visible and mid-infrared imagery and photometry of temporary Jovian co-orbital comet P/2019 LD$_2$ taken with HST/WFC3, Spitzer/IRAC, the GROWTH telescope network, visible spectroscopy from Keck/LRIS and archival ZTF observations taken between 2019 April and 2020 August. Our observations indicate that the nucleus of LD$_2$ has a radius between 0.2-1.8 km assuming a 0.08 albedo and a coma dominated by $sim$100$mu$ m-scale dust ejected at $sim$1 m/s speeds with a $sim$1” jet pointing in the SW direction. LD$_2$ experienced a total dust mass loss of $sim$10$^8$ kg at a loss rate of $sim$6 kg/s with Af$rho$/cross-section varying between $sim$85 cm/125 km$^2$ and $sim$200 cm/310 km$^2$ from 2019 April 9 to 2019 Nov 8. If the increase in Af$rho$/cross-section remained constant, it implies LD$_2$’s activity began $sim$2018 November when within 4.8 au of the Sun, implying the onset of H$_2$O sublimation. We measure CO/CO$_2$ gas production of $lesssim$10$^{27}$ mol/s /$lesssim$10$^{26}$ mol/s from our 4.5 $mu$m Spitzer observations, $g$-$r$ = 0.59$pm$0.03, $r$-$i$ = 0.18$pm$0.05, $i$-$z$ = 0.01$pm$0.07 from GROWTH observations, H$_2$O gas production of $lesssim$80 kg/s scaling from our estimated $C2$ production of $Q{C_2}lesssim$7.5$times10^{24}$ mol/s from Keck/LRIS spectroscopy. We determine that the long-term orbit of LD$_2$ is similar to Jupiter family comets having close encounters with Jupiter within $sim$0.5 Hill radius in the last $sim$3 y, within 0.8 Hill radius in $sim$9 y. Additionally, 78.8$%$ of our orbital clones are ejected from the Solar System within $1 times 10^{6}$ years having a dynamical half-life of 3.4 $times 10^5$ years.