DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 26. Comets I: Large, Heliocentric
Oral, Chairs: M. Sykes and D. H. Wooden, Thursday, September 4, 2003, 3:30-4:30pm, DeAnza III

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[26.03] Disappearance of 19P/Borrelly’s Silicate Feature in 2001 Apparition Is Attributed to Increase in Grain Size

D.H. Wooden (NASA Ames Research Center), C.E. Woodward (U. Minnesota), D.E. Harker (UCSD/CASS)

We report on observations and analysis of HIFOGS 10 ~\micron \ spectrophotometry of short period comet 19P/Borrelly on 2003 October 13, 15 UT at the NASA IRTF. 19P/Borrelly is one of two short period comets, comet 4P/Faye being the other, to have a silicate feature detected (Hanner et al. 1996, Icarus, 124, 344). During Borrelly’s perihelion passage in 1994 December, a silicate feature was present with a flux-to-continuum ratio of 0.25. Two apparitions later in 2003 October, the silicate feature is absent. Thermal emission modeling (cf. Harker et al. 2002, ApJ, 580, 579) using amorphous olivine and amorphous carbon shows that a slight increase in grain size accounts for the disappearance of the silicate feature. Analysis of 19P/Borrelly suggests grain size, and not the absence of olivine minerals, may be responsible for the absence of silicate features in most short period comets.

19P/Borrelly is one of the more active short period comets. However, short period comets as a family are less active than long period comets. Short period comets probably originated in the Kuiper Belt and suffered collisions while in residence in the outer solar system. Upon evolution into orbits that take them through the inner solar system, the surfaces of short period comets are exposed to sunlight through their many perihelion passages. This is in contrast to long period comets which probably originated near Jupiter and were expelled to the Oort cloud where they have existed and been exposed to cosmic ray processing. By studying the grain properties in short period comets and comparing to long period comets, we compare the effects on the grain populations of different parent body evolution histories. Upcoming opportunities to study short and long period comets will be advertised.

This research is supported in part by an NSF Grant to the University of Minnesota.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 35 #4
© 2003. The American Astronomical Soceity.