Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko rotation changes derived from sublimation induced torques

  • Context. The change of the rotation period and the orientation of the rotation axis of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P/C-G) is deducible from images taken by the scientific imaging instruments on-board the Rosetta mission with high precision. Non gravitational forces are a natural explanation for these data. Aims. We describe observed changes for the orientation of the rotation axis and the rotation period of 67P/C-G. For these changes we give an explanation based on a sublimation model with a best-fit for the surface active fraction (model P). Torque effects of periodically changing gas emissions on the surface are considered. Methods. We solve the equation of state for the angular momentum in the inertial and the body- fixed frames and provide an analytic theory of the rotation changes in terms of Fourier coefficients, generally applicable to periodically forced rigid body dynamics. Results. The torque induced changes of the rotation state constrain the physical properties of the surface, the sublimation rate and the local active fraction of the surface. Conclusions. We determine a distribution of the local surface active fraction in agreement with the rotation properties, period and orientation, of 67P/C-G. The torque movement confirms that the sublimation increases faster than the insolation towards perihelion. The derived relatively uniform activity pattern is discussed in terms of related surface features.
Metadaten
Author:Tobias Kramer, Matthias Läuter, Stubbe Hviid, Laurent Jorda, Horst Uwe Keller, Ekkehard Kührt
Document Type:Article
Parent Title (English):Astronomy & Astrophysics
Year of first publication:2019
ArXiv Id:http://arxiv.org/abs/1812.01490
Published in:Astronomy & Astrophysics
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201834349