Sublimation of icy aggregates in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko detected with the OSIRIS cameras on board Rosetta

A. Gicquel, J.-B. Vincent, J. Agarwal, M. F. A’Hearn, I. Bertini, D. Bodewits, H. Sierks, Z.-Y. Lin, C. Barbieri, P. L. Lamy, R. Rodrigo, D. Koschny, H. Rickman, H. U. Keller, M. A. Barucci, J.-L. Bertaux, S. Besse, G. Cremonese, V. Da Deppo, B. Davidsson, S. Debei, J. Deller, M. De Cecco, E. Frattin, M. R. El-Maarry, S. Fornasier, M. Fulle, O. Groussin, P. J. Gutierrez, P. Gutierrez-Marquez, C. Guettler, S. Hoefner, M. Hofmann, X. Hu, S. F. Hviid, W.-H. Ip, L. Jorda, J. Knollenberg, G. Kovacs, J.-R. Kramm, E. Kuehrt, M. Kueppers, L. M. Lara, M. Lazzarin, J. J. Lopez Moreno, S. Lowry, F. Marzari, N. Masoumzadeh, M. Massironi, F. Moreno, S. Mottola, G. Naletto, N. Oklay, M. Pajola, A. Pommerol, F. Preusker, F. Scholten, X. Shi, N. Thomas, I. Toth, C. Tubiana. 2016. Sublimation of icy aggregates in the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko detected with the OSIRIS cameras on board Rosetta. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 462, S57-S66, DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stw2117 (50th ESLAB Symposium).

Beginning in 2014 March, the OSIRIS (Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System) cameras began capturing images of the nucleus and coma (gas and dust) of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko using both the wide angle camera (WAC) and the narrow angle camera (NAC). The many observations taken since July of 2014 have been used to study the morphology, location, and temporal variation of the comet’s dust jets. We analysed the dust monitoring observations shortly after the southern vernal equinox on 2015 May 30 and 31 with the WAC at the heliocentric distance R-h = 1.53 AU, where it is possible to observe that the jet rotates with the nucleus. We found that the decline of brightness as a function of the distance of the jet is much steeper than the background coma, which is a first indication of sublimation. We adapted a model of sublimation of icy aggregates and studied the effect as a function of the physical properties of the aggregates (composition and size). The major finding of this paper was that through the sublimation of the aggregates of dirty grains (radius a between 5 and 50 mu m) we were able to completely reproduce the radial brightness profile of a jet beyond 4 km from the nucleus. To reproduce the data, we needed to inject a number of aggregates between 8.5 x 10(13) and 8.5 x 10(10) for a = 5 and 50 mu m, respectively, or an initial mass of H2O ice around 22 kg.

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