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Modeling the Dust Tails of 13 Long Period Comets

Presentation #412.05 in the session Dusty and Icy Cometary Comae (iPosters).

Published onOct 20, 2022
Modeling the Dust Tails of 13 Long Period Comets

Long Period comets (LPCs) are characteristic for their bright tails when outgassing (sublimation: ice to gas transition) lifts off observable dust grains as they approach the sun, and the shape of these tails is highly dependent on each comet’s dust properties. We present a comprehensive study of the dust tails of 13 LPCs with a range of orbits. For each comet we have observations from the Canada France Hawaii Telescope (CFHT). We use Finson-Probstein diagrams to choose CFHT observations with the best viewing geometries. For these observations, we create deep image stacks that are enhanced using image pixel shift, rotation, and azimuthal normalization to search for non-uniform activity such as jets. We implement dust models to recreate the observed dust tail. The presence of jets infers sub-surface ice sublimation and requires an additional implementation of the dust model. Our best-fit models deliver grain size distributions, grain emission velocities, and dust production rates for each comet. We present preliminary results on this analysis. Our results will provide constraints for future sublimation modeling – which will inform us about what type and quantity of ices are present during activity. This is important in the context of mapping the distribution of volatiles in the proto-planetary disk. Finally, this analysis will yield valuable information about the near-nucleus dust environment that future spacecraft missions to LPCs will encounter — including assessing the hazards associated with large grains.

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