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Title: THE NUCLEUS OF COMET 10P/TEMPEL 2 IN 2013 AND CONSEQUENCES REGARDING ITS ROTATIONAL STATE: EARLY SCIENCE FROM THE DISCOVERY CHANNEL TELESCOPE

We present new lightcurve measurements of Comet 10P/Tempel 2 carried out with Lowell Observatory's Discovery Channel Telescope in early 2013 when the comet was at aphelion. These data represent some of the first science obtained with this new 4.3 m facility. With Tempel 2 having been observed to exhibit a small but ongoing spin-down in its rotation period for over two decades, our primary goals at this time were two-fold. First, to determine its current rotation period and compare it to that measured shortly after its most recent perihelion passage in 2010, and second, to disentangle the spin-down from synodic effects due to the solar day and Earth's orbital motion and to determine the sense of rotation, i.e., prograde or retrograde. At our midpoint of 2013 February 24, the observed synodic period is 8.948 ± 0.001 hr, exactly matching the predicted prograde rotation solution based on 2010 results, and yields a sidereal period of the identical value due to the solar and Earth synodic components just canceling out during the interval of the 2013 observations. The retrograde solution is ruled out because the associated sidereal periods in 2010 and 2013 are quite different even though we know that extremely littlemore » outgassing, needed to produce torques, occurred in this interval. With a definitive sense of rotation, the specific amounts of spin-down to the sidereal period could be assessed. The nominal values imply that the rate of spin-down has decreased over time, consistent with the secular drop in water production since 1988. Our data also exhibited an unexpectedly small lightcurve amplitude which appears to be associated with viewing from a large, negative sub-Earth latitude, and a lightcurve shape deviating from a simple sinusoid implying a highly irregularly shaped nucleus.« less
Authors:
; ;  [1]
  1. Lowell Observatory, 1400 W. Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22273285
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astronomical Journal (New York, N.Y. Online); Journal Volume: 146; Journal Issue: 5; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ASTRONOMY; ASTROPHYSICS; COMETS; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; EARTH PLANET; ROTATION; ROTATIONAL STATES; SPIN; TELESCOPES; WATER