DPS Meeting, Madison, October 1998
Session 29P. Comets I
Contributed Poster Session, Wednesday, October 14, 1998, 5:10-6:10pm, Hall of Ideas

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[29P.13] Infrared Excitation of Ethane in Comet Hale-Bopp

S.J. Kim (Kyunghee University), H.A. Weaver (Johns Hopkins University), T.Y. Brooke (JPL), G. Chin (GSFC)

Several sub-branches of the 3 micron band of C2H6 have been detected in comets Hyakutake (C/1996 B2) (Mumma et al., 1996), and Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) (Weaver et al., 1998). We have developed a line-by-line, time-dependent fluorescence model of this band and have calculated g-factors as a function of cometocentric distance. We find that the g-factors of the sub-branches near the nucleus are greater than those far from the nucleus by approximately a factor of two. Since the lifetime of C2H6 is long (~91,000 seconds at a heliocentric distance of 1 AU), C2H6 molecules far from the nucleus should be close to fluorescence equilibrium, while molecules close to the nucleus should have a much colder rotational distribution due to collisional equilibration with the low temperature gas in that region. We analyzed a 3 micron spectrum of Hale-Bopp obtained at the IRTF with the CSHELL on 2 March 1997. Within a square aperture of 1" x 2" at a geocentric distance of 1.5 AU, we find that most of the C2H6 molecules are not in the fluorescence equilibrium condition. We constructed synthetic spectra of the 3 micron band of C2H6 within the aperture in order to compare the model spectra with the observation. We discuss how the infrared excitation processes affect the derivation of molecular production rates and the analysis of spatial brightness profiles.


Mumma, M.J. et al. 1996. Science, 272, 1310-1314.

Weaver, H.A. et al. 1998. Accepted for publication in the Proceeding of the First International Conference on Comet, Tenerife, Canary Island, Feb. 2-5, 1998.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: sjkim@khobs.kyunghee.ac.kr

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