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Detection Of Atomic Metals In The Spectra Of Comet C/1996 Hyakutake

Presentation #316.02 in the session “Circumstellar Disks and The Solar System”.

Published onJun 18, 2021
Detection Of Atomic Metals In The Spectra Of Comet C/1996 Hyakutake

Molecular emission is ubiquitous in cometary comae, with fluorescence emission detectable out to even large heliocentric distances. However, the detections of atomic metals around comets in any form is typically limited to sample return missions, e.g. the Stardust mission to 81P/Wild, or in sungrazing comets wherein the surface and dust in the coma heats up sufficiently to directly sublimate metals. A recent paper reported detection of Fe I and Ni I in a sample of 30+ solar system comets (Manfroid et al. 2021). We report the identification of dozens of emission lines belonging to Fe I and Ni I in archived spectra of comet C/1996 Hyakutake. The identifications are aided by comparison to a nickel-iron laboratory plasma experiment at Auburn University (Bromley et al. 2020, Neff et al. 2021 In Prep). Line heights and aperture-averaged column densities were extracted by comparison to our newly-developed, publicly-available many-level fluorescence model. Using our derived column densities, we constrain the production rates (~g/sec) and parent scale lengths (<1000 km) of the atomic metals using a grid of Haser models.

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