The size distribution of Jupiter Family comet nuclei

Snodgrass, Colin; Fitzsimmons, A.; Lowry, S. C. and Weissman, P. (2011). The size distribution of Jupiter Family comet nuclei. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 414(1) pp. 458–469.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2966.2011.18406.x

Abstract

We present an updated cumulative size distribution (CSD) for Jupiter Family comet (JFC) nuclei, including a rigorous assessment of the uncertainty on the slope of the CSD. The CSD is expressed as a power law, N(>rN) ∝r−qN, where rN is the radius of the nuclei and q is the slope. We include a large number of optical observations published by us and others since the comprehensive review in the Comets II book, and make use of an improved fitting method. We assess the uncertainty on the CSD due to all of the unknowns and uncertainties involved (photometric uncertainty, assumed phase function, albedo and shape of the nucleus) by means of Monte Carlo simulations. In order to do this we also briefly review the current measurements of these parameters for JFCs. Our final CSD has a slope q= 1.92 ± 0.20 for nuclei with radius rN≥ 1.25 km.

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