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Characteristics of the dust trail of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: an application of the IMEX model

Characteristics of the dust trail of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko: an application of the IMEX model

Publication date: 30 October 2015

Authors: Soja, R., et al.

Journal: Astronomy & Astrophysics
Volume: 583
Page: A18
Year: 2015

Copyright: © ESO, 2015

Context. Here we describe a new model of the dust streams of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko that has been developed using the Interplanetary Meteoroid Environment for Exploration (IMEX). This is a new universal model for recently created cometary meteoroid streams in the inner solar system.

Aims. The model can be used to investigate characteristics of cometary trails: here we describe the model and apply it to the trail of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko to develop our understanding of the trail and assess the reliability of the model.

Methods. Our IMEX model provides trajectories for a large number of dust particles released from ~400 short-period comets. We use this to generate optical depth profiles of the dust trail of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and compare these to Spitzer observations of the trail of this comet from 2004 and 2006.

Results. We find that our model can match the observed trails if we use very low ejection velocities, a differential size distribution index of α ≈ -3.7, and a dust production rate of 300–500 kg s-1 at perihelion. The trail is dominated by mm-sized particles and can contain a large proportion of dust produced before the most recent apparition. We demonstrate the strength of IMEX in providing time-resolved histories of meteoroid streams. We find that the passage of Mars through the stream in 2062 creates visible gaps. This indicates the utility of this model in providing insight into the dynamical evolution of streams and trails, as well as impact hazard assessment for spacecraft on interplanetary missions.

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