Temporal and spatial aspects of gas release during the 2010 apparition of comet 103P/Hartley 2

M. J. Mumma, B. P. Bonev, G. L. Villanueva, L. Paganini, M. A. Disanti, E. L. Gibb, J. V. Keane, K. J. Meech, G. A. Blake, R. S. Ellis, M. Lippi, H. Boehnhardt, K. Magee-Sauer

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Abstract

We report measurements of eight primary volatiles (H2O, HCN, CH4, C2H6, CH3OH, C 2H2, H2CO, and NH3) and two product species (OH and NH2) in comet 103P/Hartley 2 using high-dispersion infrared spectroscopy. We quantified the long- and short-term behavior of volatile release over a three-month interval that encompassed the comet's close approach to Earth, its perihelion passage, and flyby of the comet by the Deep Impact spacecraft during the EPOXI mission. We present production rates for individual species, their mixing ratios relative to water, and their spatial distributions in the coma on multiple dates. The production rates for water, ethane, HCN, and methanol vary in a manner consistent with independent measures of nucleus rotation, but mixing ratios for HCN, C2H6, and CH3OH are independent of rotational phase. Our results demonstrate that the ensemble average composition of gas released from the nucleus is well defined and relatively constant over the three-month interval (September 18 through December 17). If individual vents vary in composition, enough diverse vents must be active simultaneously to approximate (in sum) the bulk composition of the nucleus. The released primary volatiles exhibit diverse spatial properties which favor the presence of separate polar and apolar ice phases in the nucleus, establish dust and gas release from icy clumps (and from the nucleus), and provide insights into the driver for the cyanogen (CN) polar jet. The spatial distributions of C2H6 and HCN along the near-polar jet (UT October 19.5) and nearly orthogonal to it (UT October 22.5) are discussed relative to the origin of CN. The ortho-para ratio (OPR) of water was 2.85 0.20; the lower bound (2.65) defines T spin > 32 K. These values are consistent with results returned from the Infrared Space Observatory in 1997.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberL7
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume734
Issue number1 PART 2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 10 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science

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