Volume 583, November 2015
Rosetta mission results pre-perihelion
|Number of page(s)||5|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||30 October 2015|
Negatively charged nano-grains at 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
1 Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
2 Space Science and Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX 78228, USA
3 Department of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80303, USA
Received: 15 April 2015
Accepted: 8 July 2015
Shortly after the Rosetta mission’s rendezvous with 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko the RPC/IES instrument intermittently detected negative particles that were identified as singly charged nano-dust grains. These grains were recorded as a nearly mono-energetic beam of particles in the 200−500 eV range arriving from the direction of the comet. Occasionally, another population of particles in the energy range of 1−20 keV were also noticed arriving from the approximate direction of the Sun. In this paper we review the processes that can explain the energization and the directionality of the observed nano-dust populations. We show that the observations are consistent with gas-drag acceleration of the outflowing particles with radii of 3−4 nm, and with the returning fragments of bigger particles accelerated by radiation pressure with approximate radii of 30−80 nm. In addition to gas drag and radiation pressure, we also examine the role of the solar wind induced motional electric field, and its possible role in explaining the intermittency of the detection of a nano-grain population arriving from the solar direction.
Key words: comets: general / comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov- Gerasimenko
© ESO, 2015
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