Gemini and Lowell observations of 67P/Churyumov−Gerasimenko during the Rosetta mission

Knight, Matthew M.; Snodgrass, Colin; Vincent, Jean-Baptiste; Conn, Blair C.; Skiff, Brian A.; Schleicher, David G. and Lister, Tim (2017). Gemini and Lowell observations of 67P/Churyumov−Gerasimenko during the Rosetta mission. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 469(Suppl_2) S661-S674.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stx2472

Abstract

We present observations of comet 67P/Churyumov−Gerasimenko acquired in support of the Rosetta mission. We obtained usable data on 68 nights from 2014 September until 2016 May, with data acquired regularly whenever the comet was observable. We collected an extensive set of near-IR J, H and Ks data throughout the apparition plus visible-light images in g', r', i' and z' when the comet was fainter. We also obtained broad-band R and narrow-band CN filter observations when the comet was brightest using telescopes at Lowell Observatory. The appearance was dominated by a central condensation and the tail until 2015 June. From 2015 August onwards, there were clear asymmetries in the coma, which enhancements revealed to be due to the presence of up to three features (i.e. jets). The features were similar in all broad-band filters; CN images did not show these features but were instead broadly enhanced in the southeastern hemisphere. Modelling using the parameters from Vincent et al. replicated the dust morphology reasonably well, indicating that the pole orientation and locations of active areas have been relatively unchanged over at least the last three apparitions. The dust production, as measured by A(0°) peaked ∼30 d after perihelion and was consistent with predictions from previous apparitions. A(0°) as a function of heliocentric distance was well fitted by a power law with slope −4.2 from 35 to 120 d post-perihelion. We detected photometric evidence of apparent outbursts on 2015 August 22 and 2015 September 19, although neither was discernible morphologically in this data set.

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