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Published September 2007 | Published
Journal Article Open

3D/Biela and the Andromedids: Fragmenting versus Sublimating Comets


Comet 3D/Biela broke up in 1842/1843 and continued to disintegrate in the returns of 1846 and 1852. When meteor storms were observed in November of 1872 and 1885, it was surmised that those showers were the debris from that breakup. This could have come from one of two sources: (1) the initial separation of fragments near aphelion or (2) the continued disintegration of the fragments afterward. Alternatively, the meteoroids could simply have come from water vapor drag when the fragments approached perihelion (option 3). We investigated the source of the Andromedid storms by calculating the dynamical evolution of dust ejected in a normal manner by water vapor drag in the returns from 1703 to 1866, assuming that the comet would have remained similarly active over each return. In addition, we simulated the isotropic ejection of dust during the initial fragmentation event at aphelion in December of 1842. We conclude that option 2 is the most likely source of meteoroids encountered during the 1872 and 1885 storms, but this accounts for only a relatively small amount of mass lost in a typical comet breakup.

Additional Information

© 2007. The American Astronomical Society. Received 2007 January 3; accepted 2007 April 22; published 2007 July 12. Print publication: Issue 3 (2007 September). We thank NASA's Planetary Astronomy program for support of this work.

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