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Dust tail streamers of a comet with rotating nucleus

Abstract

Synthetic images of the dust tail are presented for a comet which has a rotating nucleus with one predominant dust source fixed to it. The images have been generated using a new computer model which, unlike similar models, allows for the study of dust tails caused by a rotating nucleus with an anisotropic distribution of sources.

The dust tail is studied in the post-perihelion phase of a parabolic comet with a perihelion distance of 0.5 AU. One finds that in the case of a rotating nucleus with anisotropic emission characteristics streamers caused solely by the dynamics of the dust particles are forming in the dust tail even if there is no dependence between the solar irradiation angle of the source and the amount of dust emitted. If the dust emission depends on the solar irradiation angle of the dust source, then the brightest tail regions do not necessarily coincide with the synchrones for the times of maximum dust emission.

As a consequence, a thorough analysis of streamer patterns in a cometary dust tail requires assumptions on the rotational state and the dust source distribution of the nucleus. Otherwise, it seems not possible to discern between streamers which are caused dynamically by nucleus rotation and others which reflect variations in the emission activity.

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Beisser, K., Drechsel, H. Dust tail streamers of a comet with rotating nucleus. Astrophys Space Sci 191, 1–22 (1992). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00644193

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Keywords

  • Dust
  • Dust Emission
  • Synthetic Image
  • Source Distribution
  • Dust Source