Comet Halley | Published:

Optical probing of comet Halley from the Giotto spacecraft

Naturevolume 321pages341344 (1986) | Download Citation



The Halley optical probe experiment (HOPE) aboard the Giotto spacecraft has provided the first measurements of the optical properties of the dust and of some gaseous species (CN, C2, CO+ and OH) from inside the coma of comet Halley. The dust spatial distribution, inferred from sunlight scattering, obeys an r−2 law for distances from the nucleus r2,000 km. The more rapid increase of dust density with distance observed in the innermost coma probably reflects the presence of a jet, or a surge of activity within a few hours before closest approach. The CN and OH signals increase more slowly than the dust signals, but faster than predicted by a simple model (of solar-excited resonance fluorescence) for the distribution of these species1. This effect is probably caused in part by the dust contribution, as well as by the production from parent molecules of OH and CN in an excited state.

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  1. Service d'Aéronomie CNRS, BP 3, 91370, Verrières-le-Buisson, France

    • A. C. Levasseur-Regourd
    • , J. L. Bertaux
    •  & J. M. Le Blanc
  2. Observatoire de Bordeaux, 33270, Floirac, France

    • R. Dumont
  3. Observatoire de Besançon, 25044, Besançon, France

    • M. Festou
  4. Ruhr Universität, Postfach 102148, 4630, Bochum, FRG

    • R. H. Giese
  5. Space Astronomy Laboratory, 1810 NW 6th St., Gainesville, Florida, 32601, USA

    • F. Giovane
    •  & J. L. Weinberg
  6. Laboratoire d'Astronomie Spatiale, Les Trois Lucs, 13012, Marseille, France

    • P. Lamy
    •  & A. Llebaria


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