Volume 538, February 2012
|Number of page(s)||12|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||17 February 2012|
The chemistry of C3 and C2 in cometary comae
I. Current models revisited⋆
Dept. d’Astronomia i Meteorologia, Institut de Ciències del Cosmos (ICC),
Universitat de Barcelona (IEEC-UB), c/ Martí i Franquès 1, 08028
Received: 15 June 2011
Accepted: 7 October 2011
Context. It is widely accepted that C3 and in particular C2 play an important role in the compositional classification of comets, and the most well-established classification scheme to date is indeed based on the Haser production rates of these two radicals. A link between both C3 and C2 and their actual parent molecules would therefore be desirable to allow both a physical and chemical interpretation of the compositional classification of comets. A first detailed study was performed by Helbert and collaborators for comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp), which suggested a link between these two radicals and the parent species C2H2, C2H6, and C3H4.
Aims. We extend previous studies of the formation of C3 and C2 to other comets at smaller heliocentric distances. The proposed model for the formation of these two radicals is tested for these comets.
Methods. We compare the observed radial column densities of C3 and C2 in the comae of the comets C/2001 Q4 (NEAT), C/2002 T7 (LINEAR), and 9P/Tempel 1 with the results of a one-dimensional multi-fluid coma chemistry model. The shape of the modelled radial column density profiles are compared with the observed profiles, and the production rates of the parent species are computed by fitting the observational data with the model.
Results. We do not find that C2H6 is a significant parent species of the observed cometary C2. Furthermore, electron impact reactions do not play an important role in the formation of C3. The model for the formation of C3 and C2 derived from comet Hale-Bopp is inconsistent with observations of these radicals in other comets.
Key words: comets: general
© ESO, 2012
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