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W. M. Harris (University of Wisconsin, Madison), M. Combi (University of Michigan), J. Morgenthaler (University of Wisconsin, Madison)
Cometary fragmentation and the intermixing of gas flows from the different components of multi-nuclear systems is emerging as a significant factor in gas production and coma distribution. The recent total disruption of comet C/1999S4 (LINEAR) represents an extreme example of this, while the trailing fragments observed from C/1996B2 Hyakutake may represent a more common case. Study of gas production from fragmentation events offers a compelling opportunity to study both ballistic and hydrodynamic flows and the transition from one to the other. Because of their brightness, proximity and viewing geometry, the gas arcs produced in association with large trailing fragments seen in from 1996B2 (Hyakutake) in March, represents the most dramatic, and best studied example of this phenomena. Currently there are two primary interpretations of the gas flow interaction resulting from the presence of these fragments; that they were the result of two intermingling flows from the (largely) ballistic comas the nucleus and fragment, or that they represent a transient, mobile shock phenomenon. Each has testable theoretical and observational implications for the evolution of the arc structures. We examine the detailed temporal characteristics of the arcs over several hours on successive days, focusing on the interaction as seen in CN emission. We also compare the shape of the arcs in CN with its distribution in OH, a species with a different intrinsic radial distribution.
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