The Volatile Composition and Activity of Comet 103P/Hartley 2 During the EPOXI Closest Approach

Date

2011-06

Authors

Dello Russo, N.
Vervack, R. J.
Lisse, C. M.
Weaver, H. A.
Kawakita, H.
Kobayashi, H.
Cochran, Anita L.
Harris, W. M.
McKay, A. J.
Biver, N.

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Abstract

We report time-resolved measurements of the absolute and relative abundances of eight parent volatiles (H2O, CH3OH, C2H6, C2H2, NH3, HCN, H2CO, and HC3N) in the coma of 103P/Hartley 2 on UT 2010 November 4, the date the EPOXI spacecraft made its closest approach to the comet, using high-dispersion infrared spectroscopy with NIRSPEC at the W. M. Keck Observatory. Overall gas and dust production increased by roughly 60% between UT 10:49 and 15:54. Differences in the spatial distributions of species in the coma suggest icy sources of different composition in the nucleus of 103P/Hartley 2. However, differences in the relative abundances of species with time are minor, suggesting either internal compositional heterogeneity in 103P/Hartley 2 is small compared with the diversity of chemistry observed within the comet population, or more significant heterogeneity exists on scales smaller than our spatial resolution. Observations contemporaneous with the EPOXI encounter test how compositional heterogeneity over the surface and the inner coma of a comet manifests itself in remote-sensing observations of the bulk coma.

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Citation

Russo, N. Dello, R. J. Vervack Jr, C. M. Lisse, H. A. Weaver, H. Kawakita, H. Kobayashi, A. L. Cochran et al. "THE VOLATILE COMPOSITION AND ACTIVITY OF COMET 103P/HARTLEY 2 DURING THE EPOXI CLOSEST APPROACH Based on observations obtained at the WM Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea, HI, USA." The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Vol. 734, No. 1 (Jun., 2011): L8.