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Title: Where are the mini Kreutz-family comets?

The Kreutz family of sungrazing comets contains over 2000 known members, many of which are believed to be under ∼100 m sizes (mini comets) and have only been studied at small heliocentric distances (r {sub H}) with space-based SOHO/STEREO spacecraft. To understand the brightening process of mini Kreutz comets, we conducted a survey using CFHT/MegaCam at moderate r {sub H} guided by SOHO/STEREO observations. We identify two comets that should be in our search area but are not detected, indicating that the comets have either followed a steeper brightening rate within the previously reported rapid brightening stage (the brightening burst), or the brightening burst starts earlier than expected. We present a composite analysis of the pre-perihelion light curves of five Kreutz comets that cover to ∼1 AU. We observe significant diversity in the light curves that can be used to grossly classify them into two types: C/Ikeya-Seki and C/SWAN follow the canonical r{sub H}{sup −4} while the others follow r{sub H}{sup −7}. In particular, C/SWAN seems to have undergone an outburst (Δm > 5 mag) or a rapid brightening (n ≳ 11) between r {sub H} = 1.06 AU and 0.52 AU, and shows hints of structural/compositional differences compared tomore » other bright Kreutz comets. We also find evidence that the Kreutz comets as a population lose their mass less efficiently than the dynamically new comet, C/ISON, and are relatively devoid of species that drive C/ISON's activity at large r {sub H}. Concurrent observations of C/STEREO in different wavelengths also suggest that a blueward species such as CN may be the main driver for brightening bursts, instead of sodium as previously thought.« less
Authors:
;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [3]
  1. Department of Physics and Astronomy, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6A 3K7 (Canada)
  2. Department of Earth, Planetary and Space Sciences, University of California at Los Angeles, 595 Charles Young Drive East, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1567 (United States)
  3. Ostlandring 53, D-25335 Elmshorn, Schleswig-Holstein (Germany)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22370174
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal; Journal Volume: 796; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; COMETS; COMPARATIVE EVALUATIONS; CYANIDES; DISTANCE; MASS; SPACE; VISIBLE RADIATION; WAVELENGTHS