Assessing Potential Contributions from Outgassing and Tidal Effects on the Evolving Rotational State of 1I/'Oumuamua

29 Sep 2022  ·  Aster G. Taylor, Darryl Z. Seligman, Douglas R. MacAyeal, Olivier R. Hainaut, Karen J. Meech ·

In this paper, we attempt to interpret the photometric light curve of 1I/`Oumuamua, the first interstellar object discovered traversing the inner Solar System. We compare photometric data with synthetic light curves of ellipsoidal bodies for a range of rotational states and observing geometries. While previous work reported an increase in the periodicity of the object during October, we find a $\Delta p\simeq0.21$ hour decrease in the spin period between October and November. We investigate potential contributions to the evolving spin period from both outgassing and tidal effects using a general formalism which may be applied to any elongated object. While sublimation is a stronger effect, tidal deformation could change the moment of inertia and subsequent spin period based on the bulk material properties. We present an open source software which simulates constant-density, constant-viscosity liquid bodies subject to tidal forces for a range of assumed viscosites and sizes ($\texttt{SAMUS}$). These numerical simulations, when applied to `Oumuamua, demonstrate that it may have experienced significant tidal deformation in the presence of sublimation. However, synthetic observations which incorporate tidal effects demonstrate that little deformation is necessary to match the composite light curve. We find that a dynamic viscosity of $\mu\geq10^9$ g cm$^{-1}$ s$^{-1}$, corresponding to a 0.1\% change in moment of inertia, best reproduces the photometric data. It is feasible that tidal deformation contributed to the shorter timescale spin-down in October, while outgassing induced the secular spin-up.

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