DPS 34th Meeting, October 2002
Session 27. Comet Nuclei
Oral, Chair(s): C. Lisse and Y.R. Fernandez, Thursday, October 10, 2002, 2:00-4:00pm, Ballroom

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[27.11] Physical Properties of Bright Comets

J. Pittichová (Astronomical Institute of the Slovak Academy of Sciences (SAV-Slovakia)), K.J. Meech (IfA)

We will show preliminary results from a program of long-term observation of the dust coma activity of bright comets. One and half years of observation of 32 selected comets in B, V, R, I filters are used for the study of the physical properties and the dust activity of their comae at a range of heliocentric distances from 0.99 to 8.61 AU. This enables us to compare the activity of different cometary nuclei at similar solar radiation conditions. As shown in the Table, the selected comets belong to different cometary populations from the point of view of their active age (near parabolic orbits versus short-period orbits, outbursts of brightness, disruption of nuclei) and orbital parameters (the eccentricity from 0.04 to 1.01 AU, the perihelion distance from 0.34 to 8.24 AU). The knowledge of physical properties of cometary nuclei and coma are very important to our understanding of the environment in the outer solar system during the era of formation. The comet dataset of 1128 images will enable us to study thermal evolution of the small dust particles, their dynamical parameters and size distribution as a function of time and grain size at different heliocentric distances. Our future goal is to model the near-nucleus particle region using a Finston-Probstein dust model. Since our observations are still in progress at this time we will present only preliminary results of brightness and color changes for several selected bright comets.

Dynamical and Physical Characteristics of Program Comets
Age in the Oort Sense
Nucleus Activity
Orbital Position
Dynamically New Short-period Outburst Nuc. Splitting Pre- Post-perihelion

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 34, #3< br> © 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.