The Open UniversitySkip to content

Evidence for the formation of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko through gravitational collapse of a bound clump of pebbles

Blum, Jürgen; Gundlach, Bastian; Krause, Maya; Fulle, Marco; Johansen, Anders; Agarwal, Jessica; Borstel, Ingo von; Shi, Xian; Hu, Xuanyu; Bentley, Mark S.; Capaccioni, Fabrizio; Colangeli, Luigi; Corte, Vincenzo Della; Fougere, Nicolas; Green, Simon F.; Ivanovski, Stavro; Mannel, Thurid; Merouane, Sihane; Migliorini, Alessandra; Rotundi, Alessandra; Schmied, Roland and Snodgrass, Colin (2017). Evidence for the formation of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko through gravitational collapse of a bound clump of pebbles. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 469 S755-S773.

Full text available as:
PDF (Accepted Manuscript) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (2MB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


The processes that led to the formation of the planetary bodies in the Solar System are still not fully understood. Using the results obtained with the comprehensive suite of instruments on-board ESA’s Rosetta mission, we present evidence that comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko likely formed through the gentle gravitational collapse of a bound clump of mm-sized dust aggregates (“pebbles”), intermixed with microscopic ice particles. This formation scenario leads to a cometary make-up that is simultaneously compatible with the global porosity, homogeneity, tensile strength, thermal inertia, vertical temperature profiles, sizes and porosities of emitted dust, and the steep increase in water-vapour production rate with decreasing heliocentric distance, measured by the instruments on-board the Rosetta spacecraft and the Philae lander. Our findings suggest that the pebbles observed to be abundant in protoplanetary discs around young stars provide the building material for comets and other minor bodies.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2017 The Authors
ISSN: 0035-8711
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Astronomy and Planetary Sciences at the Open UniversityST/L000776/1STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council)
Planetary Science at the Open University 2017-2020.ST/P000657/1STFC (Science & Technology Facilities Council)
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Physical Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Research Group: Space
Item ID: 51750
Depositing User: Simon Green
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2017 13:07
Last Modified: 01 Jun 2019 20:22
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU