Investigating the physical properties of outbursts on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Zhong-Yi Lin, J. Knollenberg, J.-B. Vincent, M. F. A’Hearn, W-H. Ip, H. Sierks, C. Barbieri, P. L. Lamy, R. Rodrigo, D. Koschny, H. Rickman, H. U. Keller, S. Mottola, D. Bodewits, J. Agarwal, M. A. Barucci, J.-L. Bertaux, I. Bertini, G. Cremonese, J. Deller, V. Da Deppo, B. Davidsson, S. Debei, M. De Cecco, S. Fornasier, M. Fulle, O. Groussin, P. J. Gutiérrez, C. Güttler, M. Hofmann, S. F. Hviid, L. Jorda, G. Kovacs, J.-R. Kramm, E. Kührt, M. Küppers, I.-L. Lai, L. M. Lara, M. Lazzarin, J-C. Lee, J. J. López-Moreno, F. Marzari, G. Naletto, N. Oklay, T. Ott, E. Drolshagen, X. Shi, N. Thomas, C. Tubiana. 2017. Investigating the physical properties of outbursts on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 469, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx2768,  International Conference on Cometary Science – Comets – A New Vision after Rosetta and Philae

Cometary outbursts on several comets have been observed both by ground-based telescopes and by in situ instruments on spacecraft. However, the mechanism behind these phenomena and their physical properties are still unclear. The optical, spectrocopic and infrared remote imaging system (OSIRIS) onboard the Rosetta spacecraft provided first-hand information on the outbursts from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko during its perihelion passage in 2015. The physical properties of the outbursts can be investigated by examining the time series of these high-resolution images. An analysis is made of the wide- and narrow-angle images obtained during the monitoring of the outburst sequences, which occurred between July and September in 2015. A ring-masking technique is used to calculate the excess brightness of the outbursts. The ejected mass and expansion velocity of the outbursts is estimated from differences in images made with the same filter (orange filter). The calculated excess brightness from these outburst plumes ranges from a few per cent to 28 per cent. In some major outbursts, the brightness contribution from the outburst plume can be one or two times higher than that of the typical coma jet activities. The strongest event was the perihelion outburst detected just a few hours before perihelion. The mass ejection rate during a generic outburst could reach a few per cent of the steady-state value of the dust coma. Transient events are detected by studying the brightness slope of the outburst plume with continuous streams of outflowing gas and dust triggered by driving mechanisms, as yet not understood, which remain active for several minutes to less than a few hours.

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