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Photometry of Cometary Nuclei and the Implications

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Jian-Yang
Li (Applicant)

Although comets have different compositions with a large fraction of volatiles in their comae, and different dynamical histories, they all show low albedos of about 4-5%.  What determines the photometric properties of cometary nuclei, and are their photometric properties primordial or evolutionary?  Recent spacecraft flyby of comets 19P/Borrelly, 81P/Wild 2, 9P/Tempel 1, and 103P/Hartley 2 enable us to directly study the photometric properties and surface variations of cometary nuclei in great detail.  I will review the disk-resolved photometric studies of all four comets, including 9P that has been visited twice in two successive perihelion passages.  Results from these studies suggest that continuous deposition of dark materials on the surface of comets is the likely reason of low albedo, while the surface texture is a consequence of sublimation process.  Photometric properties of cometary nuclei are therefore
dominated by cometary outgassing activity.

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