Journal Article

Large cometary grains – their destruction and changes in the luminosity of comets

P. Gronkowski

in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Published on behalf of The Royal Astronomical Society

Volume 397, issue 2, pages 883-889
Published in print August 2009 | ISSN: 0035-8711
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1365-2966 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2009.14994.x
Large cometary grains – their destruction and changes in the luminosity of comets

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The catastrophic thermodynamic destruction of large cometary heterogeneous grains lying on the surface of a comet nucleus is examined. The core–mantle grain-structure model is assumed. Grain fragmentation as an explanation of sudden changes in cometary brightness is proposed. The approach presented to the problem of cometary outbursts is a development of a previous author's paper. The proposed mechanism is based on the idea of thermodynamical destruction of heterogeneous cometary grains. Numerical simulations have been carried out for a wide range of values of physical characteristics of cometary material. The results obtained are consistent with observational data. The main conclusion of this paper is that thermodynamical fragmentation of large grains can explain variations in brightness and also outbursts of comets.

Keywords: comets: general; comets: individual: 17P/Holmes

Journal Article.  5865 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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