7968 Elst–Pizarro in August 1996 by ESO. The narrow tail is visible.
|Discovered by||M. R. S. Hawkins and R. H. McNaught and/or S. J. Bus 
(as 1979 OW7)
as well as Eric W. Elst and Guido Pizarro (as 1996 N2)
|Discovery date||24 July 1979 (as 1979 OW7)  and 14 July 1996 (as 1996 N2)|
|Alternative names||P/1996 N2, 1979 OW7|
|Minor planet category||Main-belt comet
|Epoch 2012-Sep-30 (JD 2456200.5)
T_jup = 3.184
|Aphelion||3.67196 AU (Q)
|Perihelion||2.6499 AU (q)
|Semi-major axis||3.1609 AU (a)
|Orbital period||5.62 yr
|Average orbital speed||16.64 km/s|
|Longitude of ascending node||160.15°|
|Argument of perihelion||132.18°|
|Dimensions||3.8±0.6 km (Spitzer)|
|Mean density||1.3(?) g/cm³|
|Rotation period||3.471 hr
|Apparent magnitude||17.24 to 20.71|
|Absolute magnitude (H)||14.0
Comet Elst–Pizarro is a body that displays characteristics of both asteroids and comets, and is the prototype of main-belt comets. Its orbit keeps it within the asteroid belt, yet it displayed a dust tail like a comet while near perihelion in 1996, 2001, and 2007.
- As a comet it is formally designated 133P/Elst–Pizarro.
- As an asteroid it is designated 7968 Elst–Pizarro.
Elst–Pizarro was reported in 1979 as minor planet 1979 OW7, with its image on a photographic plate being completely stellar in appearance. The orbit remains entirely within the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, with eccentricity 0.165, typical of a minor planet in the asteroid belt. However, the images taken by Eric W. Elst and Guido Pizarro in 1996, when it was near perihelion, clearly show a cometary tail. Since this is not normal behaviour for asteroids, it is suspected that Elst–Pizarro has a different, probably icy, composition. The cometary nature of Elst–Pizarro was first discovered on 1996 August 7 when a linear dust feature was observed.
Subsequently, around the next perihelion in November 2001, the cometary activity appeared again, and persisted for 5 months.
At present, there are only four other objects that are cross-listed as both comets and asteroids: 2060 Chiron (95P/Chiron), 4015 Wilson-Harrington (107P/Wilson-Harrington), 60558 Echeclus (174P/Echeclus), and 118401 LINEAR (176P/LINEAR, previously 1999 RE70). As a dual status object, astrometric observations of 7968 Elst–Pizarro should be reported under the minor planet designation.
- MPEC 1996-R07
- IAUC 6473
- IAUC 6457
- Henry H. Hsieh (May 2010). "Main Belt Comets". Hawaii. Retrieved 2010-12-15. (older 2010 site)
- David Jewitt. "Main Belt Comets". UCLA, Department of Earth and Space Sciences. Retrieved 2010-12-15.
- "JPL Small-Body Database Browser: 7968 Elst–Pizarro (1996 N2)". 2012-06-06 last obs. Retrieved 2012-08-08. Archived from the original on 2012-08-08
- Hsieh, Henry H.; Jewitt, David C.;Fernández, Yanga R. (2009). "Albedos of Main-Belt Comets 133P/Elst–Pizarro and 176P/LINEAR". The Astrophysical Journal Letters 694 (2): L111–L114. arXiv:0902.3682. Bibcode:2009ApJ...694L.111H. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/694/2/L111.
- Hsieh, Henry H.; Jewitt, David C.;Fernández, Yanga R. (2004). "The Strange Case of 133P/Elst–Pizzarro: A Comet Among the Asteroids". The Astronomical Journal 127 (5): 2997–3017. Bibcode:2004AJ....127.2997H. doi:10.1086/383208.
- Hsieh, Henry H.; Jewitt, David C.;Lacerda, Pedro; Lowry, Stephen C.; Snodgrass, Colin (2010). "The return of activity in main-belt comet 133P/Elst–Pizarro". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 403 (1): 363–377. arXiv:0911.5522. Bibcode:2010MNRAS.403..363H. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.16120.x.
- Main-Belt Comets May Have Been Source Of Earths Water, Space Daily, Mar 23, (2006).
- "Dual-Status Objects". Minor Planet Center. 2008-03-06. Retrieved 2010-12-17.
|Periodic comets (by number)|