We present high-dispersion infrared spectra of hydroxyl (OH) in comets C/2000 WM1 (LINEAR) and C/2004 Q2 (Machholz), acquired with the Near Infrared Echelle Spectrograph at the Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Most of these rovibrational transitions result from photodissociative excitation of H2O giving rise to OH "prompt" emission. We present calibrated emission efficiencies (equivalent g-factors, measured in OH photons s-1 [H2O molecule]-1) for more than 20 OH lines sampled in these two comets. The OH transitions analyzed cover a broad range of rotational excitation. This infrared database for OH can be used in two principal ways: (1) as an indirect tool for obtaining water production in comets simultaneously with the production of other parent volatiles, even when direct detections of H2O are not available; and (2) as an observational constraint to models predicting the rotational distribution of rovibrationally excited OH produced by water photolysis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science