Radial Distribution of the Dust Comae of Comets 45P/Honda–Mrkos–Pajdusáková and 46P/Wirtanen

C. Lejoly, W. Harris, N. Samarasinha, B. E.A. Mueller, E. Howell, J. Bodnarik, A. Springmann, T. Kareta, B. Sharkey, J. Noonan, P. Campaign, L. R. Bedin, J. G. Bosch, A. Brosio, E. Bryssinck, J. B. de Vanssay, F. J. Hambsch, O. Ivanova, V. Krushinsky, Z. Y. LinF. Manzini, A. Maury, N. Moriya, P. Ochner, V. Oldani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


There was an unprecedented opportunity to study the inner dust coma environments, where the dust and gas are not entirely decoupled, of comets 45P/Honda–Mrkos–Pajdusáková (45P/HMP) from 2016 December 26 to 2017 March 15, and 46P/Wirtanen from 2018 November 10 to 2019 February 13, both in visible wavelengths. The radial profile slopes of these comets were measured in the R and HB-BC filters most representative of dust, and deviations from a radially expanding coma were identified as significant. The azimuthally averaged radial profile slope of comet 45P/HMP gradually changes from −1.81 ± 0.20 at 5.24 days preperihelion to −0.35 ± 0.16 at 74.41 days postperihelion. Contrastingly, the radial profile slope of 46P/Wirtanen stays fairly constant over the observed time period at −1.05 ± 0.05. Additionally, we find that the radial profile of 46P/Wirtanen is azimuthally dependent on the sky-plane-projected solar position angle, while that of 45P/HMP is not. These results suggest that comets 45P/HMP and 46P/Wirtanen have vastly different coma dust environments and that their dust expansion properties are distinct. As evident from these two comets, well-resolved inner comae are vital for detailed characterization of dust environments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17
JournalPlanetary Science Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


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