Ion chemistry in the coma of comet 67P near perihelion

Abstract : The coma and the comet-solar wind interaction of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko changed dramatically from the initial Rosetta spacecraft encounter in August 2014 through perihelion in August 2015. Just before equinox (at 1.6 AU from the Sun), the solar wind signal disappeared and two regions of different cometary ion characteristics were observed. These “outer” and “inner” regions have cometary ion characteristics similar to outside and inside the ion pileup region observed during the Giotto approach to comet 1P/Halley. Rosetta/DFMS ion mass spectrometer observations are used here to investigate the H3O+/H2O+ ratio in the outer and inner regions at 67P/ Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The H3O+/H2O+ ratio and the H3O+ signal are observed to increase in the transition from the outer to the inner region and the H3O+ signal appears to be weakly correlated with cometary ion energy. These ion composition changes are similar to the ones observed during the 1P/Halley flyby. Modeling is used to determine the importance of neutral composition and transport of neutrals and ions away from the nucleus. This modeling demonstrates that changes in the H3O+/H2O+ ratio appear to be driven largely by transport properties and only weakly by neutral composition in the coma.
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S. A. Fuselier, K. Altwegg, H. Balsiger, Jean-Jacques Berthelier, A. Beth, et al.. Ion chemistry in the coma of comet 67P near perihelion. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press (OUP): Policy P - Oxford Open Option A, 2016, 462 (Suppl. 1), pp.S67-S77. ⟨10.1093/mnras/stw2149⟩. ⟨insu-01368192⟩

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