EDP Sciences
Free access
Volume 403, Number 2, May IV 2003
Page(s) 757 - 768
Section The Sun
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1051/0004-6361:20030378

A&A 403, 757-768 (2003)
DOI: 10.1051/0004-6361:20030378

Dust evolution of comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) by imaging polarimetric observations

E. Hadamcik1 and A. C. Levasseur-Regourd1, 2

1  Service d'Aéronomie/CNRS, BP 3, 91371 Verrières le Buisson, France
2  Université Paris VI, T15-15, Boîte 102, 4 place Jussieu, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France

(Received 28 August 2001 / Accepted 21 November 2002 )

Comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) has been observed over a large range of phase angles (7 $^{\circ}$-47 $^{\circ}$) by the imaging polarimetric method from June 1996 to April 1997. Polarization maps were obtained and long-term evolution (month) of the coma structures followed. Short-term evolution (20 min) during the April 1997 observations has allowed us to measure the period of rotation of the central arc on the polarization maps. The comparison between the polarization maps and the intensity structures confirms a greater polarization in the jets. Phase curves are obtained for different regions of the coma and compared to those obtained for the whole coma. For the region around the nucleus, the phase curve is always underneath the phase curve corresponding to the whole coma, and the polarization at phase angles smaller than 25 $^{\circ}$ is negative ( $P_{{\rm min}} =
-5$ %). In the jets, the phase curve is always above the whole coma phase curve, and the polarization is always positive. Whole coma phase curves are obtained with all the available data sets in different wavelengths. A comparison with other diagnostics and laboratory experiments leads us to suggest that small grains build up fluffy aggregates of high porosity; the light scattered by such aggregates is highly polarized, as observed in this active comet.

Key words: comets: individual: C/1995 01 (Hale-Bopp) -- polarization -- scattering -- ISM: dust, extinction -- techniques: polarimetric

Offprint request: E. Hadamcik, edith.hadamcik@aerov.jussieu.fr

© ESO 2003