Friday, July 19, 2013

1307.4885 (M. Fulle et al.)

Potassium detection and Lithium depletion in comets C/2011 L4 (Panstarrs) and C/1965 S1 (Ikeya-Seki)    [PDF]

M. Fulle, P. Molaro, L. Buzzi, P. Valisa
On 21 March 2013 high-resolution slit spectrographs of comet C/2011 L4 (Panstarrs), at the heliocentric distance r = 0.46 Astronomical Units (AU), were obtained at the Osservatorio Astronomico Campo dei Fiori, Italy. Emission lines of sodium were the strongest in the spectrum as is common in comets, but also potassium lines were detected. These have been rarely observed in comets since the apparition of brightest comet C/1965 S1 (Ikeya-Seki). Lithium was not detected, and stringent upper limits of its abundance compared to other alkali were derived. We obtain abundance ratios Na/K = 54 +/-14 and Na/Li > 8000. As well as in Mercury exosphere (Leblanc & Douressoundiram 2011)}, we show that photoionization at the beginning of the alkali tails may increase the solar ratio Na/K = 15.5 (Asplund et al 2009) by a factor 3, close to that required to match the observed value. In the same tail position the Na/Li ratio increases by a factor 2 only, very far from the factor > 8 required to match an original meteoritic ratio. We apply the same model to similar alkali data (Preston 1967) of comet C/1965 S1 (Ikeya-Seki), obtaining consistent results. An original solar Na/K ratio fits the observed value at the beginning of the alkali tails within the slit size, whereas Li is depleted by a factor > 8.
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