Modeling the heterogeneous ice and gas coma of Comet 103P/Hartley 2

Fougere, N.; Combi, M.R.; Rubin, Martin; Tenishev, V. (2013). Modeling the heterogeneous ice and gas coma of Comet 103P/Hartley 2. Icarus, 225(1), pp. 688-702. Elsevier 10.1016/j.icarus.2013.04.031

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The spectacular images of Comet 103P/Hartley 2 recorded by the Medium Resolution Instrument (MRI) and High Resolution Instrument (HRI) on board of the Extrasolar Planet Observation and Deep Impact Extended Investigation (EPOXI) spacecraft, as the Deep Impact extended mission, revealed that its bi-lobed very active nucleus outgasses volatiles heterogeneously. Indeed, CO2 is the primary driver of activity by dragging out chunks of pure ice out of the nucleus from the sub-solar lobe that appear to be the main source of water in Hartley 2's coma by sublimating slowly as they go away from the nucleus. However, water vapor is released by direct sublimation of the nucleus at the waist without any significant amount of either CO2 or icy grains. The coma structure for a comet with such areas of diverse chemistry differs from the usual models where gases are produced in a homogeneous way from the surface. We use the fully kinetic Direct Simulation Monte Carlo model of Tenishev et al. (Tenishev, V.M., Combi, M.R., Davidsson, B. [2008]. Astrophys. J. 685, 659-677; Tenishev, V.M., Combi, M.R., Rubin, M. [2011]. Astrophys. J. 732, 104-120) applied to Comet 103P/Hartley 2 including sublimating icy grains to reproduce the observations made by EPOXI and ground-based measurements. A realistic bi-lobed nucleus with a succession of active areas with different chemistry was included in the model enabling us to study in details the coma of Hartley 2. The different gas production rates from each area were found by fitting the spectra computed using a line-by-line non-LTE radiative transfer model to the HRI observations. The presence of icy grains with long lifetimes, which are pushed anti-sunward by radiation pressure, explains the observed OH asymmetry with enhancement on the night side of the coma.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Rubin, Martin


500 Science > 530 Physics








Cléa Serpollier

Date Deposited:

10 Jul 2014 11:46

Last Modified:

10 Jul 2014 11:46

Publisher DOI:



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