Temporal morphological changes in the Imhotep region of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

O. Groussin, H. Sierks, C. Barbieri, P. Lamy, R. Rodrigo, D. Koschny, H. Rickman, H. U. Keller, M. F. A'Hearn, A. T. Auger, M. A. Barucci, J. L. Bertaux, I. Bertini, S. Besse, G. Cremonese, V. Da Deppo, B. Davidsson, S. Debei, M. De Cecco, M. R. El-MaarryS. Fornasier, M. Fulle, P. J. Gutiérrez, C. Güttler, S. Hviid, W. H. Ip, L. Jorda, J. Knollenberg, G. Kovacs, J. R. Kramm, E. Kührt, M. Küppers, L. M. Lara, M. Lazzarin, J. J. Lopez Moreno, S. Lowry, S. Marchi, F. Marzari, M. Massironi, S. Mottola, G. Naletto, N. Oklay, M. Pajola, A. Pommerol, N. Thomas, I. Toth, C. Tubiana, J. B. Vincent

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52 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aims. We report on the first major temporal morphological changes observed on the surface of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in the smooth terrains of the Imhotep region. Methods. We used images of the OSIRIS cameras onboard Rosetta to follow the temporal changes from 24 May 2015 to 11 July 2015. Results. The morphological changes observed on the surface are visible in the form of roundish features that are growing in size from a given location in a preferential direction at a rate of 5.6-8.1 × 10-5 m s-1 during the observational period. The location where the changes started and the contours of the expanding features are bluer than the surroundings, which suggests that ices (H2O and/or CO2) are exposed on the surface. However, sublimation of ices alone is not sufficient to explain the observed expanding features. No significant variations in the dust activity pattern are observed during the period of changes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA36
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Volume583
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2015

Keywords

  • Comets: general
  • Comets: individual: 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
  • Methods: data analysis

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