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Title: Comet 17P/Holmes: contrast in activity between before and after the 2007 outburst

A Jupiter-family comet, 17P/Holmes, underwent outbursts in 1892 and 2007. In particular, the 2007 outburst is known as the greatest outburst over the past century. However, little is known about the activity before the outburst because it was unpredicted. In addition, the time evolution of the nuclear physical status has not been systematically studied. Here, we study the activity of 17P/Holmes before and after the 2007 outburst through optical and mid-infrared observations. We found that the nucleus was highly depleted in its near-surface icy component before the outburst but that it became activated after the 2007 outburst. Assuming a conventional 1 μm sized grain model, we derived a surface fractional active area of 0.58% ± 0.14% before the outburst whereas the area was enlarged by a factor of ∼50 after the 2007 outburst. We also found that large (≥1 mm) particles could be dominant in the dust tail observed around aphelion. Based on the size of the particles, the dust production rate was ≳170 kg s{sup –1} at a heliocentric distance of r{sub h} = 4.1 AU, suggesting that the nucleus was still active around the aphelion passage. The nucleus color was similar to that of the dust particles andmore » average for a Jupiter-family comet but different from that of most Kuiper Belt objects, implying that color may be inherent to icy bodies in the solar system. On the basis of these results, we concluded that more than 76 m of surface material was blown off by the 2007 outburst.« less
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  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, Seoul National University, Gwanak, Seoul 151-742 (Korea, Republic of)
  2. Department of Astronomy and Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, 933 North Cherry Avenue, Tucson, AZ 85721 (United States)
  3. Department of Astronomy, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033 (Japan)
  4. Observatoire de Paris, I.M.C.C.E., Denfert Rochereau, Bat. A., F-75014 Paris (France)
  5. Department of Physics, School of Science, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 464-8602 (Japan)
  6. Ishigakijima Astronomical Observatory, National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, Ishigaki, Okinawa 907-0024 (Japan)
  7. Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, 3-1-1 Yoshinodai, Chuo-ku, Sagamihara, Kanagawa 252-5210 (Japan)
  8. National Astronomical Observatory, 2-21-1 Osawa, Mitaka, Tokyo 181-8588 (Japan)
  9. Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Daejeon 305-348 (Korea, Republic of)
  10. National Institutes of Natural Sciences, Okayama Astrophysical Observatory, Kamogata-cho, Okayama 719-0232 (Japan)
  11. Astronomical Institute, Tohoku University, Aramaki, Aoba-ku, Sendai 980-8578 (Japan)
  12. Nishi-Harima Astronomical Observatory, Center for Astronomy, University of Hyogo, Sayo, Hyogo 679-5313 (Japan)
  13. Himeji City Science Museum, Himeji, Hyogo 671-2222 (Japan)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 778; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States