Tuesday, April 16, 2013

1304.4204 (Michael S. Kelley et al.)

A Distribution of Large Particles in the Coma of Comet 103P/Hartley 2    [PDF]

Michael S. Kelley, Don J. Lindler, Dennis Bodewits, Michael F. A'Hearn, Carey M. Lisse, Ludmilla Kolokolova, Jochen Kissel, Brendan Hermalyn
The coma of comet 103P/Hartley 2 has a significant population of large particles observed as point sources in images taken by the Deep Impact spacecraft. We measure their spatial and flux distributions, and attempt to constrain their composition. The flux distribution of these particles implies a very steep size distribution with power-law slopes ranging from -6.6 to -4.7. The radii of the particles extend up to 20 cm, and perhaps up to 2 m, but their exact sizes depend on their unknown light scattering properties. We consider two cases: bright icy material, and dark dusty material. The icy case better describes the particles if water sublimation from the particles causes a significant rocket force, which we propose as the best method to account for the observed spatial distribution. Solar radiation is a plausible alternative, but only if the particles are very low density aggregates. If we treat the particles as mini-nuclei, we estimate they account for <16-80% of the comet's total water production rate (within 20.6 km). Dark dusty particles, however, are not favored based on mass arguments. The water production rate from bright icy particles is constrained with an upper limit of 0.1 to 0.5% of the total water production rate of the comet. If indeed icy with a high albedo, these particles do not appear to account for the comet's large water production rate.
View original: http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.4204

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