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Methanol in Comet 46P/Wirtanen: Rapidly Varying and Anisotropic Outgassing Measured with ALMA

Presentation #108.03 in the session “Comet Comae: A Tail of Volatiles and Ice”.

Published onOct 26, 2020
Methanol in Comet 46P/Wirtanen: Rapidly Varying and Anisotropic Outgassing Measured with ALMA

The study of comets affords a unique window into the birth, infancy, and subsequent history of the solar system. Understanding the clues to solar system formation imprinted in the volatile composition of comets requires a detailed knowledge of coma photochemistry, discerning those species subliming directly from the nucleus (and thus indicative of its native composition) from those produced by photolysis or other means in the coma. Carbon monosulfide (CS) has been detected in the comae of many comets and is suspected to be a product species. Its parent has not been definitively identified to date (e.g., Boissier et al. 2007). Although CS2 has been proposed as a parent, other molecular precursors may contribute to the CS content of comets. Recently, the high spatial and spectral resolution provided by the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) has enabled the photochemistry of the coma to be probed in unprecedented detail, yielding insights into the coma production of molecules such as H2CO and HNC. We searched for CS emission in several comets targeted with ALMA, with the aim of constraining its photochemistry and identifying potential parents. We will present spatially and spectrally resolved images of CS emission in each comet, report CS production rates and parent scale lengths, discuss the photochemistry of CS, and place our results into the context of comets characterized to date.


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