Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Ion composition and dynamics at comet Halley

Abstract

The ion mass spectrometer aboard the Giotto spacecraft measured the composition and velocity distributions of cometary ions at distances of 7.5×l06 to 1,300 km from the nucleus of comet Halley. Well outside the bow shock, pick-up cometary H+ ions were found in a diffuse shell-like distribution. Heavier ions (C+, H2O+-group, CO+ and S+) with similar distributions have been identified at ≤3×l05 km. Solar-wind He2+ was found throughout the coma to as close as 5,000 km; He+ produced by charge exchange was seen inside 2×105 km. Deeper within the coma the main cometary hot-ion species identified were H+, H2+, C+, O+, OH+, H2O+, H3O+, CO+ and S+. A pile-up of heavy cometary ions was found at 104 km from the nucleus. Giotto crossed the contact surface at 4,600 km, based on changes in ion flow velocity and temperature. Inside, ion temperatures as low as 340 K and outflow velocities of 1 km s−1 were found. Outside the contact surface ion densities vary as r−2, with a transition to an r−l dependence approximately at the contact surface. A large C+ abundance throughout the coma indicates an unexpected direct source of atomic carbon. The nitrogen abundance, on the other hand, is relatively low.

Your institute does not have access to this article

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. Balsiger, H. et al. Eur. Space. Ag. spec. Publ. 1077, 129–148 (1986).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Gloeckler, G. et al. Geophys. Res. Lett. 13, 251–254 (1986).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Bierman, L., Brosowski, B. & Schmidt, H. U. Sol. Phys. 1, 254–284 (1967).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ip, W.-H. & Axford, W. I. in Comets (ed. Wilkening, L. L.) 588–634 (University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

  5. Schmidt, H. U. & Wegmann, R. in Comets (ed. Wilkening, L. L.) 538–560 (University of Arizona Press, Tuscon, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

  6. Johnstone, A. et al. Nature 321, 344–347 (1986).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Bame, S. J. et al. Science 232, 356–361 (1986).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Neubauer, F. et al. Nature 321, 352–355 (1986).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Shimizu, M. Astrophys. Space Sci. 40, 149–155 (1976).

    ADS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Kunz, S. et al. Sol. Phys. 88, 359–376 (1983).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. Feldman, P. D. in Comets (ed. Wilkening, L. L.) 461–479 (University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

  12. A'Hearn, M. F., Feldman, P. D. & Schleicher, D. G. Astrophys. J. 274, L99–L103 (1983).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Aikin, A. C. Astrophys. J. 193, 263–264 (1974).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Ogilvie, K. W., Coplan, M. A., Bochsler, P. & Geiss, J. Science (in the press).

  15. Ip, W.-H. Eur. Space Ag. spec. Publ. 169, 79–91 (1981).

    ADS  Google Scholar 

  16. Kissel, J. et al. Nature 321, 336–337 (1986).

    ADS  CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Hanner, M. S. in Cometary Exploration Vol. 2 (ed. Gombosi, T. I.) 1–22 (Central Research Institute for Physics, Budapest, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Balsiger, H., Altwegg, K., Bühler, F. et al. Ion composition and dynamics at comet Halley. Nature 321 (Suppl 6067), 330–334 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1038/321330a0

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/321330a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing