A numerical model of cometary dust coma structures
Application to comet 9P/Tempel 1
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung, Max-Planck-Strasse 2, 37191 Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany e-mail: email@example.com
2 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, CSIC, PO Box 3004, 18080 Granada, Spain
Accepted: 10 December 2009
Aims. The purpose of this study is to test our numerical model of cometary dust coma structures and to use the results to infer information about the nucleus surface activity of comet 9P/Tempel 1.
Methods. Parameters on the activity were first estimated from simulations of ground-based observation acquired during the pre-perihelion period (January to June 2005) and compared with published results for the same period. The parameters retrieved were then used to simulate previously unpublished images of the comet acquired during the post-perihelion period (in July and August 2005).
Results. Our model was able to retrieve the spin axis orientation of comet 9P/Tempel 1 as well as information on active regions at the surface of the nucleus. We could localize at least six active areas and characterize them with parameters such as the velocity of the dust particles, grain size, and activity profile. Our model confirms published results from spacecraft measurements but is also able to make realistic predictions on the evolution of the coma morphology during the post-perihelion period.
Key words: methods: numerical / comets: general / comets: individual: 9P/Tempel 1
© ESO, 2010