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  1. Cometary activity is a manifestation of sublimation-driven processes at the surface of nuclei. However, cometary outbursts may arise from other processes that are not necessarily driven by volatiles. In order to fully understand nuclear surfaces and their evolution, we must identify the causes of cometary outbursts. In that context, we present a study of mini-outbursts of comet 46P/Wirtanen. Six events are found in our long-term lightcurve of the comet around its perihelion passage in 2018. The apparent strengths range from −0.2 to −1.6 mag in a 5" radius aperture, and correspond to dust masses between ∼104 to 106 kg, but with large uncertainties due to the unknown grain size distributions. However, the nominal mass estimates are the same order of magnitude as the mini-outbursts at comet 9P/Tempel 1 and 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, events which were notably lacking at comet 103P/Hartley 2. We compare the frequency of outbursts at the four comets, and suggest that the surface of 46P has large-scale (∼10-100 m) roughness that is intermediate to that of 67P and 103P, if not similar to the latter. The strength of the outbursts appear to be correlated with time since the last event, but a physical interpretation with respect to solar insolationmore »is lacking. We also examine Hubble Space Telescope images taken about 2 days following a near-perihelion outburst. No evidence for macroscopic ejecta was found in the image, with a limiting radius of about 2-m.« less
  2. Focal ratio degradation (FRD), the decrease of light’s focal ratio between the input into an optical fiber and the output, is important to characterize for astronomical spectrographs due to its effects on throughput and the point spread function. However, while FRD is a function of many fiber properties such as stresses, microbending, and surface imperfections, angular misalignments between the incoming light and the face of the fiber also affect the light profile and complicate this measurement. A compact experimental setup and a model separating FRD from angular misalignment was applied to a fiber subjected to varying stresses or angular misalignments to determine the magnitude of these effects. The FRD was then determined for a fiber in a fiber positioner that will be used in the Subaru Prime Focus Spectrograph (PFS). The analysis we carried out for the PFS positioner suggests that effects of angular misalignment dominate and no significant FRD increase due to stress should occur.
  3. Abstract

    The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a public–private enterprise, is a new time-domain survey employing a dedicated camera on the Palomar 48-inch Schmidt telescope with a 47 deg2field of view and an 8 second readout time. It is well positioned in the development of time-domain astronomy, offering operations at 10% of the scale and style of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) with a single 1-m class survey telescope. The public surveys will cover the observable northern sky every three nights ingandrfilters and the visible Galactic plane every night ingandr. Alerts generated by these surveys are sent in real time to brokers. A consortium of universities that provided funding (“partnership”) are undertaking several boutique surveys. The combination of these surveys producing one million alerts per night allows for exploration of transient and variable astrophysical phenomena brighter thanr ∼ 20.5 on timescales of minutes to years. We describe the primary science objectives driving ZTF, including the physics of supernovae and relativistic explosions, multi-messenger astrophysics, supernova cosmology, active galactic nuclei, and tidal disruption events, stellar variability, and solar system objects.