Comets and Asteroids

Long-term Spectroscopic Monitoring Of Comet 46P/Wirtanen

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
January 14, 2024
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Long-term Spectroscopic Monitoring Of Comet 46P/Wirtanen
Optical spectrum of Comet 46P/Wirtanen observed on 2018-12-13 using the LISA spectrograph. — astro-ph.EP

Jupiter Family Comets (JFCs), having orbital period less than 20 years, provide us with an opportunity to observe their activity and analyse the homogeneity in their coma composition over multiple apparitions.

Comet 46P/Wirtanen with its exceptionally close approach to Earth during its 2018 apparition offered the possibility for a long-term spectroscopic observations. We used a 1.2 m telescope equipped with a low-resolution spectrograph to monitor the comet’s activity and compute the relative abundances in the coma, as a function of heliocentric distance.

We report the production rates of four molecules CN, C2, C3 and NH2, and Afρ parameter, a proxy to the dust production, before and after perihelion. We found that 46P has a typical coma composition with almost constant abundance ratios with respect to CN across the epochs of observation.

Comparing the coma composition of comet 46P during the current and previous apparitions, we conclude the comet has a highly homogeneous chemical composition in the nucleus with an enhancement in ammonia abundance compared to the average abundance in comets.

K. Aravind, Kumar Venkataramani, Shashikiran Ganesh, Emmanuel Jehin, Youssef Moulane

Comments: 11 pages, 6 figures, 2 tables, accepted for publication in JOAA
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:2401.03869 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2401.03869v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Krishnakumar Aravind
[v1] Mon, 8 Jan 2024 13:01:38 UTC (951 KB)
Astrobiology, Astrochemistry

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