Plasma environment of Jupiter family comets
Coates, Andrew J. and Jones, Geraint H. (2009) Plasma environment of Jupiter family comets. Planetary and Space Science 57 (10), pp. 1175-1191. ISSN 0032-0633.
As any comet nears the Sun, gas sublimes from the nucleus taking dust with it. Jupiter family comets are no exception. The neutral gas becomes ionized, and the interaction of a comet with the solar wind starts with ion pickup. This key process is also important in other solar system contexts wherever neutral particles become ionized and injected into a flowing plasma such as at Mars, Venus, Io, Titan and interstellar neutrals in the solar wind. At comets, ion pickup removes momentum and energy from the solar wind and puts it into cometary particles, which are then thermalised via plasma waves. Here we review what comets have shown us about how this process operates, and briefly look at how this can be applied in other contexts. We review the processes of pitch angle and energy scattering of the pickup ions, and the boundaries and regions in the comet–solar wind interaction. We use in-situ measurements from the four comets visited to date by spacecraft carrying plasma instrumentation: 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, 1P/Halley, 26P/Grigg-Skjellerup and 19P/Borrelly, to illustrate the process in action. While, of these, comet Halley is not a Jupiter class comet, it has told us the most about cometary plasma environments. The other comets, which are from the Jupiter family, give an interesting comparison as they have lower gas production rates and less-developed interactions. We examine the prospects for Rosetta at comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, another Jupiter family comet where a wide range of gas production rates will be studied.
|Keyword(s) / Subject(s):||Comets, solar wind, Ion pickup|
|School:||Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Science > Earth and Planetary Sciences|
|Date Deposited:||27 Jul 2011 09:44|
|Last Modified:||17 Apr 2013 12:21|
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