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Title: MAPPING THE RELEASE OF VOLATILES IN THE INNER COMAE OF COMETS C/2012 F6 (LEMMON) AND C/2012 S1 (ISON) USING THE ATACAMA LARGE MILLIMETER/SUBMILLIMETER ARRAY

Results are presented from the first cometary observations using the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA), including measurements of the spatially resolved distributions of HCN, HNC, H{sub 2}CO, and dust within the comae of two comets: C/2012 F6 (Lemmon) and C/2012 S1 (ISON), observed at heliocentric distances of 1.5 AU and 0.54 AU, respectively. These observations (with angular resolution ≈0.''5), reveal an unprecedented level of detail in the distributions of these fundamental cometary molecules, and demonstrate the power of ALMA for quantitative measurements of the distributions of molecules and dust in the inner comae of typical bright comets. In both comets, HCN is found to originate from (or within a few hundred kilometers of) the nucleus, with a spatial distribution largely consistent with spherically symmetric, uniform outflow. By contrast, the HNC distributions are clumpy and asymmetrical, with peaks at cometocentric radii ∼500-1000 km, consistent with release of HNC in collimated outflow(s). Compared to HCN, the H{sub 2}CO distribution in comet Lemmon is very extended. The interferometric visibility amplitudes are consistent with coma production of H{sub 2}CO and HNC from unidentified precursor material(s) in both comets. Adopting a Haser model, the H{sub 2}CO parent scale length is found to be a few thousand kilometers inmore » Lemmon and only a few hundred kilometers in ISON, consistent with the destruction of the precursor by photolysis or thermal degradation at a rate that scales in proportion to the solar radiation flux.« less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ; ; ;  [4] ; ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [7] ;  [8]
  1. Goddard Center for Astrobiology, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt, MD 20771 (United States)
  2. National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Charlottesville, VA 22903 (United States)
  3. IRAM, 300 Rue de la Piscine, F-38406 Saint Martin d'Heres (France)
  4. LEISA, Observatoire de Paris, CNRS, UPMC, Université Paris-Diderot, 5 Place Jules Janssen, F-92195 Meudon (France)
  5. National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei 116, Taiwan (China)
  6. Sorbonne Universités, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris 6, CNRS, Observatoire de Paris, UMR 8112, LERMA, F-75014 Paris (France)
  7. Pontifica Universidad Catolica de Chile, Santiago (Chile)
  8. Joint Astronomy Centre, Hilo, HI 96720 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22364873
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 792; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
71 CLASSICAL AND QUANTUM MECHANICS, GENERAL PHYSICS; 79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; ASTROPHYSICS; COMETS; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; COSMIC DUST; HYDROCYANIC ACID; MOLECULES; PHOTOLYSIS; PRECURSOR; RESOLUTION; SOLAR RADIATION; SPATIAL DISTRIBUTION; SYMMETRY; THERMAL DEGRADATION; VISIBILITY