, Volume 90, Issue 1-2, pp 163-168

Polarization of Light Scattered by Cometary Dust Particles: Observations and Tentative Interpretations

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Analysis of the polarization of light scattered by cometary particles reveals similarities amongst the phase curves, together with some clear differences: i) comets with a strong silicate emission feature present a high maximum in polarization, ii) the polarization is always slightly lower than the average in inner comae and stronger in jet-like structures. These results are in excellent agreement with the Greenberg model of dust particles built up of fluffy aggregates of much smaller grains. Also, they suggest the existence of different regions of formation, and of different stages of evolution for the scattering particles inside a given cometary coma.

This revised version was published online in June 2006 with corrections to the Cover Date.