Volume 542, June 2012
|Number of page(s)
|Planets and planetary systems
|13 June 2012
A cometary nucleus model taking into account all phase changes of water ice: amorphous, crystalline, and clathrate⋆
UJF-Grenoble 1/CNRS-INSU, Institut de Planétologie et d’Astrophysique de
Grenoble (IPAG), UMR 5274,
2 Institut UTINAM, CNRS-UMR 6213, Observatoire de Besançon , BP 1615, 25010 Besançon Cedex, France
3 CNRS, UMR 7583, Université Paris-Est et Paris Diderot, Laboratoire Inter-Universitaire des Systèmes Atmosphériques, LISA/IPSL, Créteil, France
Accepted: 13 March 2012
Context. Current theories, models of cometary nuclei and of ice formation in the protoplanetary disk, and laboratory studies suggest that cometary materials could be formed of pure crystalline water ice, amorphous water ice, clathrate hydrate, or a mixture of these structures of water ice. However, current models of cometary nuclei consider only two forms of ice during the thermodynamic evolution of comets: amorphous and crystalline water ices.
Aims. In this work, we have developed a model of cometary nucleus that takes into account all water ice structures and phase changes in order to predict the outgassing profile of volatile molecules that could be measured by the Rosetta mission and can be used to constrain the structural type of ice existing in the interior of the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the target comet of the Rosetta mission, and, hopefully, its initial composition.
Methods. We added the physic of formation/dissociation of clathrate hydrates in addition to others physical processes that are taken into account in models without clathrate hydrates. All thermal changes, as well as the release and trapping of gas with water phase changes are taken into account.
Results. This model describes heat transmission, latent heat exchanges, all water ices structures and transitions (amorphous-to-pure crystalline, amorphous-to-clathrate hydrates and pure crystalline-to-clathrate hydrates and vise versa), sublimation/recondensation of volatile molecules in the nucleus, gas diffusion, gas released and trapped by crystallization and clathrate formation/dissociation processes, as well as gas and dust release and mantle formation at the surface. Applying this model to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, results show different outgassing profiles of volatiles molecules from the nucleus depending on the water ice structure, the distribution of volatile molecules between the “trapped” and “condensed” states in the nucleus and the thermal inertia of its porous matrix.
Conclusions. Given these results, we pretend that this model is able to constrain the water ice structure and chemical composition in comets from outgassing profiles of volatile molecules, and especially those of the target comet of the Rosetta mission.
Key words: comets: general / comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Appendix A is only available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2012
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