DPS 35th Meeting, 1-6 September 2003
Session 38. Comets V
Poster, Highlighted on, Friday, September 5, 2003, 3:30-6:00pm, Sierra Ballroom I-II

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[38.21] SOHO/LASCO Observation of Comet C/2002 X5 Kudo-Fujikawa at its 2003 Perihelion Passage

M. V. Bout, P. L. Lamy, A. Llebaria (Laboratoire d'Astronomie Spatiale, France)

Comet C/2002 X5 Kudo-Fujikawa was observed with the SOHO/LASCO C2 and C3 coronagraphs over a time interval of 7 days, starting 4 days before its 29 January 2003 perihelion passage and through several broadband visible filters. A total of 134 images were obtained with the C3 clear filter, 51 images with the C2 orange filter completed by 20 color sequences. The lightcurves reveal that the brightness of the coma steeply increased to reach local maxima on 27 January, then suffered a drastic turnover, decreasing by about 0.8 mag to reach minimum values on 27.8, then increased again to reach absolute maxima slightly before perihelion passage and finally decreased. This pattern of activity is consistent with the apparition of a new, anti-solar dust tail widely separated from the main tail that the comet originally sported. This translates in an unusual butterfly pattern where two "decoupled" tails co-exist at the same time. Short-time variations in the lightcurves may be caused by the rotation of the nucleus, suggesting a rotation period of about 4 hours.

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