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Title: THE PRE-PERIHELION ACTIVITY OF DYNAMICALLY NEW COMET C/2013 A1 (SIDING SPRING) AND ITS CLOSE ENCOUNTER WITH MARS

We used the UltraViolet-Optical Telescope on board Swift to systematically follow the dynamically new comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) on its approach to the Sun. The comet was observed from a heliocentric distance of 4.5 AU pre-perihelion to its perihelion at 1.4 AU. From our observations, we estimate that the water production rate during closest approach to Mars was 1.5 ± 0.3 × 10{sup 28} molecules s{sup −1}, that peak gas delivery rates where between 4.5 and 8.8 kg s{sup −1}, and that in total between 3.1 and 5.4 × 10{sup 4} kg cometary gas was delivered to the planet. Seasonal and evolutionary effects on the nucleus govern the pre-perihelion activity of comet Siding Spring. The sudden increase of its water production between 2.46 and 2.06 AU suggests the onset of the sublimation of icy grains in the coma, likely driven by CO{sub 2}. As the comet got closer to the Sun, the relative contribution of the nucleus’ water production increased, while CO{sub 2} production rates decreased. The changes in the comet’s activity can be explained by a depletion of CO{sub 2}, but the comet’s high mass loss rate suggests they may reflect primordial heterogeneities in the nucleus.
Authors:
; ; ;  [1] ;  [2]
  1. Department of Astronomy, University Maryland, College Park, MD 20742 (United States)
  2. Planetary Science Institute, 1700 East Fort Lowell Road, Suite 106, Tucson, AZ 85719 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22518998
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Astrophysical Journal Letters; Journal Volume: 802; Journal Issue: 1; Other Information: Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTROPHYSICS, COSMOLOGY AND ASTRONOMY; CARBON DIOXIDE; COMETS; MARS PLANET; MASS TRANSFER; MOLECULES; SATELLITES; STELLAR WINDS; SUN; TELESCOPES; ULTRAVIOLET RADIATION; WATER