Numerical simulation of comet nuclei I. Water-ice comets

G. Herman, M. Podolak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A one-dimensional simulation of pure water-ice cometary nuclei is presented, and the effect of the nucleus as a heat reservoir is considered. The phase transition from amorphous to crystalline ice is studied for two cases: (1) where the released latent heat goes entirely into heating adjacent layers and (2) where the released latent heat goes entirely into sublimation. For a Halley-like orbit it was found that for case 1 the phase boundary penetrates about 15 m on the first orbit and does not advance until sublimation brings the surface to some 10 m from the phase boundary. For case 2 the phase boundary penetrates about 1 m below the surface and remains at this depth as the surface sublimates. For an orbit like that of Schwassmann-Wachmann 1 the phase boundary penetrates about 50 m initially for case 1 and about 1 m for case 2. There is no further transformation until the entire comet is heated slowly to near the transition temperature, after which the entire nucleus is converted to crystalline ice. For an Encke-type orbit case 1 gives a nearly continuous transition of the entire nucleus to crystalline ice, while for case 2 the initial penetration is about 8 m and remains at this depth relative to the surface as sublimation decreases the cometary radius. Thus the entire comet is converted to crystalline ice just before it is completely dissipated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-266
Number of pages15
JournalIcarus
Volume61
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1985
Externally publishedYes

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