Density and Charge of Pristine Fluffy Particles from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

Fulle, M.; Della Corte, V.; Rotundi, A.; Weissman, P.; Juhasz, A.; Szego, K.; Sordini, R.; Ferrari, M.; Ivanovski, S.; Lucarelli, F.; Accolla, M.; Merouane, S.; Zakharov, V.; Mazzotta Epifani, E.; López-Moreno, J. J.; Rodríguez, J.; Colangeli, L.; Palumbo, P.; Grün, E.; Hilchenbach, M.; Bussoletti, E.; Esposito, F.; Green, S. F.; Lamy, P. L.; McDonnell, J. A. M.; Mennella, V.; Molina, A.; Morales, R.; Moreno, F.; Ortiz, J. L.; Palomba, E.; Rodrigo, R.; Zarnecki, J. C.; Cosi, M.; Giovane, F.; Gustafson, B.; Herranz, M. L.; Jerónimo, J. M.; Leese, M. R.; López-Jiménez, A. C. and Altobelli, N. (2015). Density and Charge of Pristine Fluffy Particles from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 802(1), article no. L12.



The Grain Impact Analyzer and Dust Accumulator (GIADA) instrument on board ESA’s Rosetta mission is constraining the origin of the dust particles detected within the coma of comet 67 P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P). The collected particles belong to two families: (i) compact particles (ranging in size from 0.03 to 1 mm), witnessing the presence of materials that underwent processing within the solar nebula and (ii) fluffy aggregates (ranging in size from 0.2 to 2.5 mm) of sub-micron grains that may be a record of a primitive component, probably linked to interstellar dust. The dynamics of the fluffy aggregates constrain their equivalent bulk density to <1 kg m-3. These aggregates are charged, fragmented, and decelerated by the spacecraft negative potential and enter GIADA in showers of fragments at speeds <1 m s-1. The density of such optically thick aggregates is consistent with the low bulk density of the nucleus. The mass contribution of the fluffy aggregates to the refractory component of the nucleus is negligible and their coma brightness contribution is less than 15%.

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