In situ plasma measurements of fragmented comet 73P Schwassmann–Wachmann 3

Gilbert, J. A.; Lepri, S. T.; Rubin, Martin; Combi, M.; Zurbuchen, T. H. (2015). In situ plasma measurements of fragmented comet 73P Schwassmann–Wachmann 3. Astrophysical journal, 815(1), p. 12. Institute of Physics Publishing IOP 10.1088/0004-637X/815/1/12

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The interiors of comets contain some of the most pristine material in the solar system. Comet 73P/Schwassmann–Wachmann 3, discovered in 1930, is a Jupiter-family comet with a 5.34-year period. This comet split into 5 fragments in 1995 and disintegrated into nearly 70 major pieces in 2006. In 2006 May and June, recently ionized cometary particles originating from fragments including and surrounding some of these major objects were collected with the ACE/SWICS and Wind/STICS sensors. Due to a combination of the instrument characteristics and the close proximity of the fragments passing between those spacecraft and the Sun, unique measurements regarding the charge state composition and the elemental abundances of both cometary and heliospheric plasma were made during that time. The cometary material released from some of these fragments can be identified by the concentrations of water-group pickup ions having a mass-per-charge ratio of 16–18 amu e−1, indicating that while these fragments are small, they are still actively sublimating. We present an analysis of cometary composition, spatial distribution, and heliospheric interactions, with a focus on helium, C+/O+, and water-group ions.

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:

10 Jun 2016 15:25

Last Modified:

06 Jul 2016 16:31

Publisher DOI:





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