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Abstract

The first imaging results from the Halley Multicolour Camera (HMC) during the Giotto fly-by of comet Halley provide images centred on the brightest part of the inner coma which show the silhouette of a large, solid and irregularly shaped cometary nucleus and jet-like dust activity visible in reflected sunlight. A first assessment of the data yields information on the dimensions and shape of the nucleus and dust emission activity. The nucleus is at least 15 km long and 10 km wide; its geometrical albedo is very low (<4%). Only minor parts of the surface are active, most of it beirig covered by non-volatile material. Dust jets dominate the inner coma and are restricted to the sub-solar hemisphere. Preliminary interpretations of these observations are presented. The parameters of the fly-by trajectory relative to the nucleus are given.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Max-Planck-Institut für Aeronomie, D-3411 Katlenburg-Lindau, FRG

    • H. U. Keller
    • , W. K. H. Schmidt
    •  & K. Wilhelm
  2. Institut d'Astrophysique, Université de Liège, 4900 Liège, Belgium

    • C. Arpigny
  3. IAL Space, Université de Liège, 4900 Liège, Belgium

    • C. Jamar
    •  & D. Malaise
  4. Istituto di Astronomia, Università di Padova, Italy

    • C. Barbieri
  5. European Space Agency, Paris, France

    • R. M. Bonnet
  6. Laboratoire de Physique Stellaire et Planétaire, Verrières-le-Buisson, France

    • S. Cazes
  7. IAS-Reparto di Planetologia, Rome, Italy

    • M. Coradini
  8. Istituto Fisica Spazio Interplanetario–CNR, Frascati, Italy

    • C. B. Cosmovici
  9. Ball Aerospace Systems Division, Boulder, Colorado 80306, USA

    • W. A. Delamere
    •  & H. J. Reitsema
  10. Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico 875451, USA

    • W. F. Huebner
  11. Physics Department, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK

    • D. W. Hughes
  12. Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, D-8046 Garching, FRG

    • H. U. Schmidt
  13. Deutsche Forschungs- und Versuchsanstalt für Luft- und Raumfahrt, D-8031 Oberpfaffenhofen, FRG

    • P. Seige
  14. Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • F. L. Whipple

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About this article

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/321320a0

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