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Debiasing the NEOWISE Cryogenic Mission Comet Populations

Bauer, James M. and Grav, Tommy and Fernández, Yanga R. and Mainzer, A. K. and Kramer, Emily A. and Masiero, Joseph R. and Spahr, Timothy and Nugent, C. R. and Stevenson, Rachel A. and Meech, Karen J. and Cutri, Roc M. and Lisse, Carey M. and Walker, Russell and Dailey, John W. and Rosser, Joshua and Krings, Phillip and Ruecker, Kinjal and Wright, Edward L. (2017) Debiasing the NEOWISE Cryogenic Mission Comet Populations. Astronomical Journal, 154 (2). Art. No. 53. ISSN 1538-3881. doi:10.3847/1538-3881/aa72df.

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We use NEOWISE data from the four-band and three-band cryogenic phases of the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission to constrain size distributions of the comet populations and debias measurements of the short- and long-period comet (LPC) populations. We find that the fit to the debiased LPC population yields a cumulative size−frequency distribution (SFD) power-law slope (β) of −1.0 ± 0.1, while the debiased Jupiter-family comet (JFC) SFD has a steeper slope with β = −2.3 ± 0.2. The JFCs in our debiased sample yielded a mean nucleus size of 1.3 km in diameter, while the LPCs' mean size is roughly twice as large, 2.1 km, yielding mean size ratios (〈D_(LPC)〉/〈D_(JFC)〉) that differ by a factor of 1.6. Over the course of the 8 months of the survey, our results indicate that the number of LPCs passing within 1.5 au are a factor of several higher than previous estimates, while JFCs are within the previous range of estimates of a few thousand down to sizes near 1.3 km in diameter. Finally, we also observe evidence for structure in the orbital distribution of LPCs, with an overdensity of comets clustered near 110° inclination and perihelion near 2.9 au that is not attributable to observational bias.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Grav, Tommy0000-0002-3379-0534
Fernández, Yanga R.0000-0003-1156-9721
Kramer, Emily A.0000-0003-0457-2519
Masiero, Joseph R.0000-0003-2638-720X
Meech, Karen J.0000-0002-2058-5670
Cutri, Roc M.0000-0002-0077-2305
Lisse, Carey M.0000-0002-9548-1526
Wright, Edward L.0000-0001-5058-1593
Additional Information:© 2017 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2016 December 16; revised 2017 April 23; accepted 2017 April 24; published 2017 July 14. This article makes use of data products from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, a joint project of the University of California, Los Angeles, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. This article also makes use of data products from NEOWISE, which is a project of JPL/Caltech, funded by the Planetary Science Division of NASA. The material is based in part on work supported by NASA through the NASA Astrobiology Institute under Cooperative Agreement no. NNA09DA77A issued through the Office of Space Science. E.A.K. and R.A.S. were supported by the NASA Postdoctoral Program. We thank the Astronomical Journal editor for the very helpful comments regarding manuscript drafts and the anonymous reviewer for providing valuable comments, both of whom greatly improved the paper content.
Group:Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC)
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Postdoctoral ProgramUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170714-083102361
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:James M. Bauer et al 2017 AJ 154 53
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:79105
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:14 Jul 2017 16:08
Last Modified:15 Nov 2021 17:45

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