Expanding haloes in cometary comae

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Abstract

Observations indicate that cometary activity can be rather violent. Flare-ups, sunward-pointing jets and periodic formation of concentric haloes expanding outwards can also be persistent features in some comets. For example, a halo structure was observed in the coma of Comet Halley during its last visit1. It is argued here that halo formation may be related to the propagation of shock pairs driven through the cometary atmosphere as a result of spin-modulation of the cometary outgassing rate. Even though the non-stationary process could be less dramatic than the example considered here, its effect on the chemistry and expansion of the neutral gas as well as dynamics of the cometary plasma must be significant.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-271
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume289
Issue number5795
DOIs
StatePublished - 1981

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