Halogens as tracers of protosolar nebula material in comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Dhooghe, Frederik; De Keyser, Johan; Altwegg, Kathrin; Briois, Christelle; Balsiger, Hans; Berthelier, Jean-Jacques; Calmonte, Ursina Maria; Cessateur, Gaël; Combi, Michael R.; Equeter, Eddy; Fiethe, Björn; Fray, Nicolas; Fuselier, Stephen; Gasc, Sébastien; Gibbons, Andrew; Gombosi, Tamas; Gunell, Herbert; Hässig, Myrtha; Hilchenbach, Martin; Le Roy, Léna; ... (2017). Halogens as tracers of protosolar nebula material in comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Monthly notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 472(2), pp. 1336-1345. Oxford University Press 10.1093/mnras/stx1911

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We report the first in situ detection of halogens in a cometary coma, that of 67P/ChuryumovGerasimenko. Neutral gas mass spectra collected by the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft during four periods of interest from the first comet encounter up to perihelion indicate that the main halogen-bearing compounds are HF, HCl and HBr. The bulk elemental abundances relative to oxygen are ~8.9 × 10⁻⁵ for F/O, ~1.2 × 10⁻⁴ for Cl/O and ~2.5 × 10⁻⁶ for Br/O, for the volatile fraction of the comet. The cometary isotopic ratios for ³⁷Cl/³⁵Cl and ⁸¹Br/⁷⁹Br match the Solar system values within the error margins. The observations point to an origin of the hydrogen halides in molecular cloud chemistry, with frozen hydrogen halides on dust grains, and a subsequent incorporation into comets as the cloud condensed and the Solar system formed.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute
10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Altwegg, Kathrin; Balsiger, Hans; Calmonte, Ursina Maria; Gasc, Sébastien; Le Roy, Léna; Rubin, Martin; Sémon, Thierry; Tzou, Chia-Yu and Wurz, Peter


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering
500 Science > 530 Physics




Oxford University Press




Dora Ursula Zimmerer

Date Deposited:

29 Sep 2017 11:01

Last Modified:

14 Nov 2017 10:33

Publisher DOI:






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