The effect of internal inhomogeneity on the activity of comet nuclei - Application to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Eric D. Rosenberg, Dina Prialnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We present thermal evolution calculations of inhomogeneous asymmetric initial configurations of a spherical model of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, using a fully 3-dimensional numerical code. The initial composition is amorphous H2O ice and dust, in a " layered-pile" configuration, where layers differing in ice/dust ratio and thermal properties extend over a fraction of the surface area and about 10m in depth and may overlap. We analyze the effect of one such layer, as well as the combined effect of many layers, randomly distributed. We find that internal inhomogeneities affect both the surface temperature and the activity pattern of the comet. In particular, they may lead to outbursts at large heliocentric distances and also to activity on the night-side of the nucleus. The rates of ablation and depths of dust mantle and crystalline ice outer layer as functions of longitude and latitude are shown to be affected as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-765
Number of pages13
JournalIcarus
Volume209
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2010

Keywords

  • Comets
  • Comets, Nucleus

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