Photometry of cometary nuclei: rotation rates, colours and a comparison with Kuiper Belt Objects

Snodgrass, C.; Lowry, S. C. and Fitzsimmons, A. (2006). Photometry of cometary nuclei: rotation rates, colours and a comparison with Kuiper Belt Objects. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 373(4) pp. 1590–1602.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2006.11121.x

Abstract

We present time-series data on Jupiter Family Comets (JFCs) 17P/Holmes, 47P/Ashbrook-Jackson and 137P/Shoemaker-Levy 2. In addition we also present results from ‘snap-shot’ observations of comets 43P/Wolf-Harrington, 44P/Reinmuth 2, 103P/Hartley 2 and 104P/Kowal 2 taken during the same run. The comets were at heliocentric distances of between 3 and 7 au at this time. We present measurements of size and activity levels for the snap-shot targets. The time-series data allow us to constrain rotation periods and shapes, and thus bulk densities. We also measure colour indices (V−R) and (R−I) and reliable radii for these comets. We compare all of our findings to date with similar results for other comets and Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs). We find that the rotational properties of nuclei and KBOs are very similar, that there is evidence for a cut-off in bulk densities at ∼0.6 g cm−3 in both populations, and the colours of the two populations show similar correlations. For JFCs, there is no observational evidence for the optical colours being dependent on either position in the orbit or orbital parameters.

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