P/2011 S1 (Gibbs) is an outer solar system comet or active Centaur with a similar orbit to that of the famous 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1. P/2011 S1 (Gibbs) has been observed by the Pan-STARRS 1 (PS1) sky survey from 2010 to 2012. The resulting data allow us to perform multi-color studies of the nucleus and coma of the comet. Analysis of PS1 images reveals that P/2011 S1 (Gibbs) has a small nucleus <4 km radius, with colors g P1 rP1 = 0.5 ± 0.02, r P1iP1 = 0.12 ± 0.02, and i P1 zP1 = 0.46 ± 0.03. The comet remained active from 2010 to 2012, with a model-dependent mass-loss rate of ∼100 kg s -1. The mass-loss rate per unit surface area of P/2011 S1 (Gibbs) is as high as that of 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1, making it one of the most active Centaurs. The mass-loss rate also varies with time from ∼40 kg s -1 to 150 kg s-1. Due to its rather circular orbit, we propose that P/2011 S1 (Gibbs) has 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1-like outbursts that control the outgassing rate. The results indicate that it may have a similar surface composition to that of 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1. Our numerical simulations show that the future orbital evolution of P/2011 S1 (Gibbs) is more similar to that of the main population of Centaurs than to that of 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 1. The results also demonstrate that P/2011 S1 (Gibbs) is dynamically unstable and can only remain near its current orbit for roughly a thousand years.
- Kuiper belt objects: individual (Centaur asteroid)
- comets: general