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Carbon suboxide in comet Halley?

Huntress, Wesley T., Jr. and Allen, Mark and Delrtsky, Mona (1991) Carbon suboxide in comet Halley? Nature, 352 (6333). pp. 316-318. ISSN 0028-0836. doi:10.1038/352316a0.

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OBSERVATIONAL data acquired during the recent appearance of comet Halley pose a puzzle about the nature and distribution of elemental carbon and carbonaceous material in its nucleus and coma. The nucleus is darker even than coal (albedo <4%), suggesting that its volatile ices contain a few per cent of carbonaceous material in the form of graphitic or amorphous carbon. The very high abundance of light elements in the coma dust, particularly H, C, N and O, suggests the presence of a significant organic component. The emission feature near 3.4 μm also implies the presence of organic material in the dust. But the parent species for the primary carbon-containing material that have been identified so far (such as CO, CO_2 and CH_4) are not present in sufficient quantities to account for all of it. Here we propose that an additional contribution from carbon suboxide (C_3O_2) in the coma dust and the nucleus material is consistent with the observational data. A production rate in the coma for C_3O_2 of about 0.03–0.04 times that of water would provide the distributed source of elemental carbon and CO within 10^4 km of the nucleus that is required to explain the data from the Giotto spacecraft and from ground-based observations.

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Additional Information:© 1991 Nature Publishing Group. Received 13 May; accepted 30 May 1991. We thank D. Larson and R Lin for calculations based on their unpublished observations. This work was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, under contract to NASA.
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Issue or Number:6333
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Official Citation:Carbon suboxide in comet Halley? 316 Wesley T. Huntress Jr, Mark Allen & Mona Delrtsky doi:10.1038/352316a0
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:57510
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:13 May 2015 23:00
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 21:51

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