Narrow dust jets in a diffuse gas coma: a natural product of small active regions on comets

Combi, M. R.; Tenishev, V. M.; Rubin, Martin; Fougere, N.; Gombosi, T. I. (2012). Narrow dust jets in a diffuse gas coma: a natural product of small active regions on comets. Astrophysical journal, 749(1), p. 29. Institute of Physics Publishing IOP 10.1088/0004-637X/749/1/29

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Comets often display narrow dust jets but more diffuse gas comae when their eccentric orbits bring them into the inner solar system and sunlight sublimates the ice on the nucleus. Comets are also understood to have one or more active areas covering only a fraction of the total surface active with sublimating volatile ices. Calculations of the gas and dust distribution from a small active area on a comet’s nucleus show that as the gas moves out radially into the vacuum of space it expands tangentially, filling much of the hemisphere centered on the active region. The dust dragged by the gas remains more concentrated over the active area. This explains some puzzling appearances of comets having collimated dust jets but more diffuse gaseous atmospheres. Our test case is 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, the Rosetta mission target comet, whose activity is dominated by a single area covering only 4% of its surface.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Rubin, Martin


500 Science > 520 Astronomy
600 Technology > 620 Engineering




Institute of Physics Publishing IOP




Martin Rubin

Date Deposited:

19 May 2016 08:40

Last Modified:

19 May 2016 08:40

Publisher DOI:





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