37th DPS Meeting, 4-9 September 2005
Session 11 Comets
Oral, Monday, September 5, 2005, 4:20-6:00pm, Law LG19

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[11.10] A Radiative Transfer Simulation of Water Rotational Excitation in Comets

V. Zakharov, N. Biver, D. Bockelee-Morvan, J. Crovisier, A. Lecacheux (Observatoire de Paris)

In order to interpret comet observations of the 557 GHz water line performed with the Odin satellite (e.g., Lecacheux et al. 2003, A&A, 402, 55), we have developed a numerical model for the simulation of optically thick water rotational emission in cometary coma. For the treatment of radiative transfer, we have elaborated a Monte Carlo code based on the accelerated lambda iteration algorithm presented in Hogerheijde and van der Tak (2000, A&A, 362, 697). The model assumes a spherically symmetric density distribution with constant expansion velocity. It includes the seven lowest rotational levels of ortho-water, which are the primarily populated levels in the rotationally cold gas of the coma. Collisions with water and electrons, and infrared pumping, are taken into account. The model is similar to that presented by Bensch and Bergin (2004, ApJ, 615, 531). We compared the results obtained with this new model with those obtained by the model of Bockelee-Morvan (1987, A&A, 181, 169). Bockelee-Morvan used the escape probability formalism to treat radiation trapping, which is in principle only valid for large velocity gradients. Surprisingly, the results of both models differ only by a few percent, showing that the escape probability formalism can be used with good confidence to treat rotational excitation in cometary atmospheres. This model will allow us to prepare future observations by the ESA Herschel Space Observatory.

V.Zakharov acknowledges financial support from CNES.

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