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On the origin of inner coma structures observed by Rosetta during a diurnal rotation of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

  • The Rosetta probe around comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P) reveals an anisotropic dust distribution of the inner coma with jet-like structures. The physical processes leading to jet formation are under debate, with most models for cometary activity focusing on localized emission sources, such as cliffs or terraced regions. Here we suggest, by correlating high-resolution simulations of the dust environment around 67P with observations, that the anisotropy and the background dust density of 67P originate from dust released across the entire sunlit surface of the nucleus rather than from few isolated sources. We trace back trajectories from coma regions with high local dust density in space to the non-spherical nucleus and identify two mechanisms of jet formation: areas with local concavity in either two dimensions or only one. Pits and craters are examples of the first case; the neck region of the bi-lobed nucleus of 67P is an example of the latter case. The conjunction of multiple sources, in addition to dust released from all other sunlit areas, results in a high correlation coefficient (~0.8) of the predictions with observations during a complete diurnal rotation period of 67P.

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Author:Tobias KramerORCiD, Matthias NoackORCiD
Document Type:Article
Parent Title (English):The Astrophysical Journal Letters
First Page:L11
Year of first publication:2016
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