Pre-discovery observations of disrupting asteroid P/2010 A2
July 1, 2011
Solar system object P/2010 A2 is the first-noticed example of the aftermath of a recently disrupted asteroid, probably resulting from a collision. Nearly a year elapsed between its inferred initiation in early 2009 and its eventual detection in early 2010. Here, we use new observations to assess the factors underlying the visibility, especially to understand the delayed discovery. We present pre-discovery observations from the LINEAR telescope and set limits to the early-time brightness from SOHO and STEREO satellite coronagraphic images. Consideration of the circumstances of discovery of P/2010 A2 suggests that similar objects must be common, and that future all-sky surveys will reveal them in large numbers.