Infrared OH prompt emission as a proxy of water production in comets: Quantitative analysis of the multiplet near 3046 cm-1 in comets C/1999 H1 (Lee) and C/2001 A2 (LINEAR)

Boncho P. Bonev, Michael J. Mumma, Neil Dello Russo, Erika L. Gibb, Michael A. DiSanti, Karen Magee-Sauer

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    Abstract

    We report quantitative measurements of OH vibrational prompt emission in comets C/1999 H1 (Lee) and C/2001 A2 (LINEAR) based on high-dispersion infrared spectra acquired at the Keck Observatory atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Effective g-factors for four OH lines near 3046 cm-1 (in the 1-0 band) were obtained from simultaneous detections of OH and H2O. The measured spatial distribution of this OH "quadruplet" traces that of H 2O, as expected if the excited OH is produced directly by water photolysis. These results establish OH prompt emission as an alternative (and convenient) proxy for water in comets. Possible limitations to the approach are discussed. Extension to other OH multiplets in the L band will permit direct comparison with theoretical models for the rotational population distribution of the free OH radicals produced by H2O photolysis in cometary atmospheres.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1048-1053
    Number of pages6
    JournalAstrophysical Journal
    Volume615
    Issue number2 I
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Nov 10 2004

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • Astronomy and Astrophysics
    • Space and Planetary Science

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