On the nucleus structure and activity of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Holger Sierks, Cesare Barbieri, Philippe L. Lamy, Rafael Rodrigo, Detlef Koschny, Hans Rickman, Horst Uwe Keller, Jessica Agarwal, Michael F. A'Hearn, Francesco Angrilli, Anne Therese Auger, M. Antonella Barucci, Jean Loup Bertaux, Ivano Bertini, Sebastien Besse, Dennis Bodewits, Claire Capanna, Gabriele Cremonese, Vania Da Deppo, Bjö DavidssonStefano Debei, Mariolino De Cecco, Francesca Ferri, Sonia Fornasier, Marco Fulle, Robert Gaskell, Lorenza Giacomini, Olivier Groussin, Pablo Gutierrez-Marques, Pedro J. Gutiérrez, Carsten Güttler, Nick Hoekzema, Stubbe F. Hviid, Wing Huen Ip, Laurent Jorda, Jörg Knollenberg, Gabor Kovacs, J. Rainer Kramm, Ekkehard Kührt, Michael Küppers, Fiorangela La Forgia, Luisa M. Lara, Monica Lazzarin, Cédric Leyrat, Josè J. Lopez Moreno, Sara Magrin, Simone Marchi, Francesco Marzari, Matteo Massironi, Harald Michalik, Richard Moissl, Stefano Mottola, Giampiero Naletto, Nilda Oklay, Maurizio Pajola, Marco Pertile, Frank Preusker, Lola Sabau, Frank Scholten, Colin Snodgrass, Nicolas Thomas, Cecilia Tubiana, Jean Baptiste Vincent, Klaus Peter Wenzel, Mirco Zaccariotto, Martin Pätzold

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Abstract

Images from the OSIRIS scientific imaging system onboard Rosetta show that the nucleus of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko consists of two lobes connected by a short neck. The nucleus has a bulk density less than half that of water. Activity at a distance from the Sun of >3 astronomical units is predominantly from the neck, where jets have been seen consistently. The nucleus rotates about the principal axis of momentum. The surface morphology suggests that the removal of larger volumes of material, possibly via explosive release of subsurface pressure or via creation of overhangs by sublimation, may be a major mass loss process. The shape raises the question of whether the two lobes represent a contact binary formed 4.5 billion years ago, or a single body where a gap has evolved via mass loss.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberaaa1044-5
JournalScience
Volume347
Issue number6220
DOIs
StatePublished - 23 Jan 2015

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