The Nature and Frequency of the Gas Outbursts in Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko Observed by the Alice Far-ultraviolet Spectrograph on Rosetta

Abstract : Alice is a far-ultraviolet imaging spectrograph on board Rosetta that, among multiple objectives, is designed to observe emissions from various atomic and molecular species from within the coma of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. The initial observations, made following orbit insertion in 2014 August, showed emissions of atomic hydrogen and oxygen spatially localized close to the nucleus and attributed to photoelectron impact dissociation of H2O vapor. Weaker emissions from atomic carbon were subsequently detected and also attributed to electron impact dissociation, of CO2, the relative H i and C i line intensities reflecting the variation of CO2 to H2O column abundance along the line of sight through the coma. Beginning in 2015 mid-April, Alice sporadically observed a number of outbursts above the sunward limb characterized by sudden increases in the atomic emissions, particularly the semi-forbidden O i λ1356 multiplet, over a period of 10–30 minutes, without a corresponding enhancement in long-wavelength solar reflected light characteristic of dust production. A large increase in the brightness ratio O i λ1356/O i λ1304 suggests O2 as the principal source of the additional gas. These outbursts do not correlate with any of the visible images of outbursts taken with either OSIRIS or the navigation camera. Beginning in 2015 June the nature of the Alice spectrum changed considerably with CO Fourth Positive band emission observed continuously, varying with pointing but otherwise fairly constant in time. However, CO does not appear to be a major driver of any of the observed outbursts.
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Contributeur : Catherine Cardon <>
Soumis le : samedi 25 juin 2016 - 19:01:10
Dernière modification le : mardi 30 mai 2017 - 01:15:36

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Paul D. Feldman, Michael F. A’hearn, Lori M. Feaga, Jean-Loup Bertaux, John Noonan, et al.. The Nature and Frequency of the Gas Outbursts in Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko Observed by the Alice Far-ultraviolet Spectrograph on Rosetta. The Astrophysical journal letters, Bristol : IOP Publishing, 2016, 825 (1), pp.L8. <10.3847/2041-8205/825/1/L8>. <insu-01337390>

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