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AR 15031 (Archival Research)

Mon Jul 15 06:05:52 GMT 2024

Principal Investigator: David Jewitt
PI Institution: University of California - Los Angeles
Investigators (xml)

Title: Disintegrating Comet 73P
Cycle: 25

Abstract
Disintegration may be the leading cause of the demise of cometary nuclei yet is rarely observed and not well understood. We propose to use an amazing but largely unpublished archival dataset on comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 from HST in order to characterize the breakup of this body, focussing on components 73-B, 73-C and 73-G from GO 8699, 10625 and 10992. We will measure the number, sizes, velocities and (short-term) photometric variability of the fragments in 73-B and 73-G and derive the ejection speeds and times. A nucleus/coma convolution model will be used to extract the best estimates of fragment and nucleus size. The size distributions and integral masses will be compared to the parent body masses to estimate lifetimes. Lightcurves will be determined to the test the possibility that disintegration is due to rotational instability.