Imaging of H2O+ in the coma of comet Halley

C. B. Cosmovici, G. Schwarz, W. H. Ip, U. Fink

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Previous investigations applying the "ring masking" technique to CCD images obtained at the South African Observatory in the period 13-18 March 1986, led to the detection of CN, C2, C3 and ([OI] + NH2) jet features in the coma of comet Halley (Cosmovici et al., Nature 332, 705-709, 1988). In complement to these results we report here the detection of new features in water ion emission at 6193 Å which may be used as a tracer for the time-dependent anisotropic emission profile of the water vapour from the cometary nucleus. South Africa images, as well as Catalina Observatory data with identical filters on 20 January and 7, 8 and 24 March 1986, are utilized in order to exclude instrumental errors. Because of the narrow bandwidth of the filter (6192±44 Å) other significant molecular contaminations are considerably reduced. The observed peculiar H2O features can be explained by the stronger H2O+/dust contrast in the ion tail or by a possible mechanism of negative charging of the dust in the cometary coma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)699-703
Number of pages5
JournalPlanetary and Space Science
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1995


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