Unusual comets (?) as observed from the Hubble Space Telescope View Full Text


Ontology type: schema:ScholarlyArticle     


Article Info

DATE

1996-02

AUTHORS

Karen J. Meech, Harold A. Weaver

ABSTRACT

In separate projects, the Hubble Space Telescope has been used to assess the nature of 3 unusual objects: Chiron, Pholus and P/Shoemaker-Levy 9. This paper will compare these objects and discuss how the unique capabilities of the HST may be used to address the issue of cometary activity in each. Chiron, which has exhibited obvious cometary characteristics for several years, might have a bound dust coma that is unresolvable from the ground. In an attempt to directly observe this bound coma, we have obtained a series of images of Chiron with the HST Planetary Camera. Inner coma structure out to 0.″2 has been detected. From these observations we infer a low bulk nucleus density for Chiron. Both HST and ground-based images of 5145 Pholus have been obtained to search for evidence of activity. The ground-based data give the most sensitive limits; however, it is shown that the WFPC-2 on HST can give limits 2–3 orders of magnitude more sensitive than conventional ground-based limits. Finally, as part of a collaborative effort, we have been obtaining HST observations of SL9 in order to determine the fragment sizes and to assess their nature (i.e., cometary vs. asteroid). Both ground-based observations from the UH 2.2m telescope on Mauna Kea and HST observations show that the near-nucleus dust is redder than the sun. While FOS spectra did not detect OH emission, the WFPC-2 HST data show that the inner coma remained very circular from July 1993 up until 2 weeks prior to impact, implying continued production of dust. More... »

PAGES

119-131

References to SciGraph publications

  • 1979. The Discovery and Orbit of (2060) Chiron in DYNAMICS OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM
  • Identifiers

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    http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1007/bf00117511

    DOI

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/bf00117511

    DIMENSIONS

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