Volume 573, January 2015
|Number of page(s)||11|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||18 December 2014|
67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: Activity between March and June 2014 as observed from Rosetta/OSIRIS
Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung,
2 Planetary and Space Sciences, Department of Physical Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
3 Center of Studies and Activities for Space (CISAS) “G. Colombo”, University of Padova, via Venezia 15, 35131 Padova, Italy
4 Institute of Planetary Research, DLR, Rutherfordstrasse 2, 12489 Berlin, Germany
5 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, 18080 Granada, Spain
6 LESIA, Obs. de Paris, CNRS, Univ Paris 06, Univ. Paris-Diderot, 5 Place J. Janssen, 92195 Meudon, France
7 Physikalisches Institut, Sidlerstrasse 5, University of Bern, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
8 INAF – Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste, via Tiepolo 11, 34143 Trieste, Italy
9 Department for Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-2421, USA
10 Department of Physics and Astronomy “G. Galilei”, University of Padova, Vic. Osservatorio 3, 35122 Padova, Italy
11 Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, School of Physical Sciences, The University of Kent, Canterbury, CT2 7NH, UK
12 Centro de Astrobiología, CSIC-INTA, 28850 Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid, Spain
13 International Space Science Institute, Hallerstrasse 6, 3012 Bern, Switzerland
14 University of Padova, Department of Physics and Astronomy, vicolo dell’Osservatorio 3, 35122 Padova, Italy
15 LATMOS, CNRS/UVSQ/IPSL, 11 Boulevard d’Alembert, 78280 Guyancourt, France
16 INAF–Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Vicolo dell’Osservatorio 5, 35122 Padova, Italy
17 CNR–IFN UOS Padova LUXOR, via Trasea 7, 35131 Padova, Italy
18 Department of Physics and Astronomy, Uppsala University, 75120 Uppsala, Sweden
19 UNITN, Universitá di Trento, via Mesiano 77, 38100 Trento, Italy
20 Department of Mechanical Engineering – University of Padova, via Venezia 1, 35131 Padova, Italy
21 Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, LAM (Laboratoire d’Astro-physique de Marseille) UMR 7326, 13388 Marseille, France
22 Institute for Space Science, National Central University, 32054 Chung-Li, Taiwan
23 Institute for Geophysics and Extraterrestrial Physics, TU Braunschweig, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
24 Research and Scientific Support Department, European Space Agency, 2201 Noordwijk, The Netherlands
25 ESA/ESAC, PO Box 78, 28691 Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain
26 Dept. Physics, University of Padova, 35122 Padova, Italy
27 Institut für Datentechnik und Kommunikationsnetze, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany
28 Department of Information Engineering – University of Padova, via Gradenigo 6, 35131 Padova, Italy
29 PAS Space Reserch Center, Bartycka 18A, 00716 Warszawa, Poland
30 Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial, 28850 Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain
Received: 1 August 2014
Accepted: 27 October 2014
Aims. 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is the target comet of the ESA’s Rosetta mission. After commissioning at the end of March 2014, the Optical, Spectroscopic, and Infrared Remote Imaging System (OSIRIS) onboard Rosetta, started imaging the comet and its dust environment to investigate how they change and evolve while approaching the Sun.
Methods. We focused our work on Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) orange images and Wide Angle Camera (WAC) red and visible-610 images acquired between 2014 March 23 and June 24 when the nucleus of 67P was unresolved and moving from approximately 4.3 AU to 3.8 AU inbound. During this period the 67P – Rosetta distance decreased from 5 million to 120 thousand km.
Results. Through aperture photometry, we investigated how the comet brightness varies with heliocentric distance. 67P was likely already weakly active at the end of March 2014, with excess flux above that expected for the nucleus. The comet’s brightness was mostly constant during the three months of approach observations, apart from one outburst that occurred around April 30 and a second increase in flux after June 20. Coma was resolved in the profiles from mid-April. Analysis of the coma morphology suggests that most of the activity comes from a source towards the celestial north pole of the comet, but the outburst that occurred on April 30 released material in a different direction.
Key words: comets: general / comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
© ESO, 2014
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