Dust environment and dynamical history of a sample of short-period comets⋆
Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC), Glorieta de la Astronomía s/n, 18008
2 Amateur Association Cometas-Obs, Spain
3 Universidad de Granada-PhD Program in Physics and Mathematics (FisyMat), Spain
Accepted: 1 May 2014
Aims. In this work, we present an extended study of the dust environment of a sample of short-period comets and their dynamical history. With this aim, we characterize the dust tails when the comets are active, and we make a statistical study to determine their dynamical evolution. The targets selected were 22P/Kopff, 30P/Reinmuth 1, 78P/Gehrels 2, 115P/Maury, 118P/Shoemaker-Levy 4, 123P/West-Hartley, 157P/Tritton, 185/Petriew, and P/2011 W2 (Rinner).
Methods. We use two different observational data sets: a set of images taken at the Observatorio de Sierra Nevada and, the Afρ curves provided by the amateur astronomical association Cometas-Obs. To model these observations, we use our Monte Carlo dust tail code. From this analysis, we derive the dust parameters, which best describe the dust environment: dust loss rates, ejection velocities, and size distribution of particles. On the other hand, we use a numerical integrator to study the dynamical history of the comets, which allows us to determine with a 90% confidence level the time spent by these objects in the region of Jupiter family comets.
Results. From the Monte Carlo dust tail code, we derived three categories according to the amount of dust emitted: weakly active (115P, 157P, and Rinner), moderately active (30P, 123P, and 185P), and highly active (22P, 78P, and 118P). The dynamical studies showed that the comets of this sample are young in the Jupiter family region, where the youngest ones are 22P (~100 yr), 78P (~500 yr), and 118P (~600 yr). The study points to a certain correlation between comet activity and time spent in the Jupiter family region, although this trend is not always fulfilled. The largest particle sizes are not tightly constrained, so that the total dust mass derived should be regarded as a lower limit.
Key words: comets: general / methods: numerical / methods: observational
Appendices are available in electronic form at http://www.aanda.org
© ESO, 2014