skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Initial speed of knots in the plasma tail of C/2013 R1(Lovejoy)

Abstract

We report short-time variations in the plasma tail of C/2013 R1(Lovejoy). A series of short (2–3 minutes) exposure images with the 8.2 m Subaru telescope shows faint details of filaments and their motions over a 24 minute observing duration. We identified rapid movements of two knots in the plasma tail near the nucleus (∼3×10{sup 5} km). Their speeds are 20 and 25 km s{sup −1} along the tail and 3.8 and 2.2 km s{sup −1} across it, respectively. These measurements set a constraint on an acceleration model of plasma tail and knots as they set the initial speed just after their formation. We also found a rapid narrowing of the tail. After correcting the motion along the tail, the narrowing speed is estimated to be ∼8 km s{sup −1}. These rapid motions suggest the need for high time-resolution studies of comet plasma tails with a large telescope.

Authors:
; ; ;  [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, 2-21-1, Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo, 181-8588 (Japan)
  2. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-3800 (United States)
  3. Subaru Telescope, 650 North A’ohoku Place, Hilo, HI 96720 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22342089
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astronomical Journal (New York, N.Y. Online); Journal Volume: 149; Journal Issue: 3; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ACCELERATION; COMETS; FILAMENTS; IMAGES; LIMITING VALUES; PLASMA; SOLAR WIND; TELESCOPES; TIME RESOLUTION; VELOCITY

Citation Formats

Yagi, Masafumi, Furusho, Reiko, Terai, Tsuyoshi, Watanabe, Jun-Ichi, Koda, Jin, and Fujiwara, Hideaki, E-mail: YAGI.Masafumi@nao.ac.jp. Initial speed of knots in the plasma tail of C/2013 R1(Lovejoy). United States: N. p., 2015. Web. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/149/3/97.
Yagi, Masafumi, Furusho, Reiko, Terai, Tsuyoshi, Watanabe, Jun-Ichi, Koda, Jin, & Fujiwara, Hideaki, E-mail: YAGI.Masafumi@nao.ac.jp. Initial speed of knots in the plasma tail of C/2013 R1(Lovejoy). United States. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/149/3/97.
Yagi, Masafumi, Furusho, Reiko, Terai, Tsuyoshi, Watanabe, Jun-Ichi, Koda, Jin, and Fujiwara, Hideaki, E-mail: YAGI.Masafumi@nao.ac.jp. Sun . "Initial speed of knots in the plasma tail of C/2013 R1(Lovejoy)". United States. doi:10.1088/0004-6256/149/3/97.
@article{osti_22342089,
title = {Initial speed of knots in the plasma tail of C/2013 R1(Lovejoy)},
author = {Yagi, Masafumi and Furusho, Reiko and Terai, Tsuyoshi and Watanabe, Jun-Ichi and Koda, Jin and Fujiwara, Hideaki, E-mail: YAGI.Masafumi@nao.ac.jp},
abstractNote = {We report short-time variations in the plasma tail of C/2013 R1(Lovejoy). A series of short (2–3 minutes) exposure images with the 8.2 m Subaru telescope shows faint details of filaments and their motions over a 24 minute observing duration. We identified rapid movements of two knots in the plasma tail near the nucleus (∼3×10{sup 5} km). Their speeds are 20 and 25 km s{sup −1} along the tail and 3.8 and 2.2 km s{sup −1} across it, respectively. These measurements set a constraint on an acceleration model of plasma tail and knots as they set the initial speed just after their formation. We also found a rapid narrowing of the tail. After correcting the motion along the tail, the narrowing speed is estimated to be ∼8 km s{sup −1}. These rapid motions suggest the need for high time-resolution studies of comet plasma tails with a large telescope.},
doi = {10.1088/0004-6256/149/3/97},
journal = {Astronomical Journal (New York, N.Y. Online)},
number = 3,
volume = 149,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2015},
month = {Sun Mar 01 00:00:00 EST 2015}
}
  • We report production rates, rotational temperatures, and related parameters for gases in C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) using the Near InfraRed SPECtrometer at the Keck Observatory, on six UT dates spanning heliocentric distances (R{sub h} ) that decreased from 1.35 AU to 1.16 AU (pre-perihelion). We quantified nine gaseous species (H{sub 2}O, OH*, CO, CH{sub 4}, HCN, C{sub 2}H{sub 6}, CH{sub 3}OH, NH{sub 3}, and NH{sub 2}) and obtained upper limits for two others (C{sub 2}H{sub 2} and H{sub 2}CO). Compared with organics-normal comets, our results reveal highly enriched CO, (at most) slightly enriched CH{sub 3}OH, C{sub 2}H{sub 6}, and HCN, andmore » CH{sub 4} consistent with {sup n}ormal{sup ,} yet depleted, NH{sub 3}, C{sub 2}H{sub 2}, and H{sub 2}CO. Rotational temperatures increased from ∼50 K to ∼70 K with decreasing R{sub h} , following a power law in R{sub h} of –2.0 ± 0.2, while the water production rate increased from 1.0 to 3.9 × 10{sup 28} molecules s{sup –1}, following a power law in R{sub h} of –4.7 ± 0.9. The ortho-para ratio for H{sub 2}O was 3.01 ± 0.49, corresponding to spin temperatures (T {sub spin}) ≥ 29 K (at the 1σ level). The observed spatial profiles for these emissions showed complex structures, possibly tied to nucleus rotation, although the cadence of our observations limits any definitive conclusions. The retrieved CO abundance in Lovejoy is more than twice the median value for comets in our IR survey, suggesting this comet is enriched in CO. We discuss the enriched value for CO in comet C/2013 R1 in terms of the variability of CO among Oort Cloud comets.« less
  • Although high-resolution spectra of the CN red-system band are considered useful in cometary sciences, e.g., in the study of isotopic ratios of carbon and nitrogen in cometary volatiles, there have been few reports to date due to the lack of high-resolution ( R  ≡  λ /Δ λ  > 20,000) spectrographs in the near-infrared region around ∼1 μ m. Here, we present the high-resolution emission spectrum of the CN red-system band in comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy), acquired by the near-infrared high-resolution spectrograph WINERED mounted on the 1.3 m Araki telescope at the Koyama Astronomical Observatory, Kyoto, Japan. We applied our fluorescence excitation models for CN, based onmore » modern spectroscopic studies, to the observed spectrum of comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy) to search for CN isotopologues ({sup 13}C{sup 14}N and {sup 12}C{sup 15}N). We used a CN fluorescence excitation model involving both a “pure” fluorescence excitation model for the outer coma and a “fully collisional” fluorescence excitation model for the inner coma region. Our emission model could reproduce the observed {sup 12}C{sup 14}N red-system band of comet C/2013 R1 (Lovejoy). The derived mixing ratio between the two excitation models was 0.94(+0.02/−0.03):0.06(+0.03/−0.02), corresponding to the radius of the collision-dominant region of ∼800–1600 km from the nucleus. No isotopologues were detected. The observed spectrum is consistent, within error, with previous estimates in comets of {sup 12}C/{sup 13}C (∼90) and {sup 14}N/{sup 15}N (∼150).« less
  • We describe the physical and orbital properties of C/2011 W3. After surviving perihelion passage, the comet was observed to undergo major physical changes. The permanent loss of the nuclear condensation and the formation of a narrow spine tail were observed first at Malargue, Argentina, on December 20 and then systematically at Siding Spring, Australia. The process of disintegration culminated with a terminal fragmentation event on December 17.6 UT. The postperihelion dust tail, observed for {approx}3 months, was the product of activity over <2 days. The nucleus' breakup and crumbling were probably caused by thermal stress due to the penetration ofmore » the intense heat pulse deep into the nucleus' interior after perihelion. The same mechanism may be responsible for cascading fragmentation of sungrazers at large heliocentric distances. The delayed response to the hostile environment in the solar corona is at odds with the rubble-pile model, since the residual mass of the nucleus, estimated at {approx}10{sup 12} g (equivalent to a sphere 150-200 m across) just before the terminal event, still possessed nontrivial cohesive strength. The high production rates of atomic oxygen, observed shortly after perihelion, are compatible with a subkilometer-sized nucleus. The spine tail-the product of the terminal fragmentation-was a synchronic feature, whose brightest part contained submillimeter-sized dust grains, released at velocities of up to 30 m s{sup -1}. The loss of the nuclear condensation prevented an accurate orbital-period determination by traditional techniques. Since the missing nucleus must have been located on the synchrone, whose orientation and sunward tip have been measured, we compute the astrometric positions of this missing nucleus as the coordinates of the points of intersection of the spine tail's axis with the lines of forced orbital-period variation, derived from the orbital solutions based on high-quality preperihelion astrometry from the ground. The resulting orbit gives 698 {+-} 2 yr for the osculating orbital period, showing that C/2011 W3 is the first member of the expected new, 21st-century cluster of bright Kreutz-system sungrazers, whose existence was predicted by these authors in 2007. From the spine tail's evolution, we determine that its measured tip, populated by dust particles 1-2 mm in diameter, receded antisunward from the computed position of the missing nucleus. The bizarre appearance of the comet's dust tail in images taken only hours after perihelion with the coronagraphs on board the SOHO and STEREO spacecraft is readily understood. The disconnection of the comet's head from the tail released before perihelion and an apparent activity attenuation near perihelion have a common cause-sublimation of all dust at heliocentric distances smaller than about 1.8 solar radii. The tail's brightness is strongly affected by forward scattering of sunlight by dust. From an initially broad range of particle sizes, the grains that were imaged the longest had a radiation-pressure parameter {beta} {approx_equal} 0.6, diagnostic of submicron-sized silicate grains and consistent with the existence of the dust-free zone around the Sun. The role and place of C/2011 W3 in the hierarchy of the Kreutz system and its genealogy via a 14th-century parent suggest that it is indirectly related to the celebrated sungrazer X/1106 C1, which, just as the first-generation parent of C/2011 W3, split from a common predecessor during the previous return to perihelion.« less
  • The R associations CMa R1 and Mon R1 have been searched for compact 7.6-cm sources with the RATAN-600 radio telescope. The Mon R1 region shows only about the expected number of background radio galaxies; in CMa R1 seven sources of small angular size with S> or =30 mJy have been found, two of them probably background objects. Comparison with optical data for CMa R1, together with previous RATAN-600 data for Mon R2, yields an initial mass function xi(M)proportionalM/sup -2.7plus-or-minus0.7/ for the rather massive (Mroughly-equal10 M/sub sun/) stars in these associations.
  • The R associations CMa R1 and Mon R1 have been searched for compact 7.6-cm sources with the RATAN-600 radio telescope. The Mon R1 region shows only about the expected number of background radio galaxies; in CMa R1 seven sources of small angular size with S of no more than 30 mJy have been found, two of them probably background objects. Comparison with optical data for CMa R1, together with previous RATAN-600 data for Mon R2, yields an initial mass function chi(M) varies as M exp - 2.7 + or - 0.7 for the rather massive (M is equal to aboutmore » 10 solar mass) stars in these associations. 28 references.« less