Microwave detection of hydrogen sulphide and methanol in comet Austin (1989c1)

Article metrics

Abstract

INFRARED and microwave spectroscopy can be used to identify and study the parent molecules directly sublimed from cometary nuclei. Here we report spectroscopic observations of comet Austin (1989c1) at millimetre wavelengths using the 30-m telescope of the Institut de Radio Astronomie Millimétrique (IRAM). We detected the rotational transitions of hydrogen cyanide and form-aldehyde, which were previously observed in comets Halley and Brorsen–Metcalf1. In addition, we identified hydrogen sulphide and methanol, neither of which has previously been detected in a comet. The presence of hydrogen sulphide provides severe constraints on the formation of cometary nuclei, whereas that of methanol supports the hypothesis that cometary nuclei have retained, at least in part, some primitive material originating from the solar nebula.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1

    Crovisier, J. & Schloerb, F. P. in Comets in the Post-Halley Era (eds Newburn, R. et al.) (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht) (in the press).

  2. 2

    Bockelée-Morvan, D. et al. Astr. Astrophys. 180, 253–262 (1987).

  3. 3

    Colom, P., Despois, D., Bockelée-Morvan, D., Crovisier, J. & Paubert, G. in Observations of Recent Comets (ed. Huebner W. F. et al.) 80–85 (Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, 1990).

  4. 4

    Cosmovici, C. B. & Ortolani, S. Nature 310, 122–124 (1984).

  5. 5

    Marconi, M. L. et al. Astr. J. 352, L17–L20 (1990).

  6. 6

    Lee, L. C., Wang, X. & Suto, M. J. chem. Phys. 86, 4353–4361 (1987).

  7. 7

    Huebner, W. F. & Carpenter, C. W. Los Alamos Informal Report LA-8085-MS (1979).

  8. 8

    Bockelée-Morvan, D. & Crovisier, J. Astr. Astrophys. 187, 425–430 (1987).

  9. 9

    Azoulay, G. & Festou, M. C. in Asteroids Comets Meteors II (eds Lagerkvist, C.-I., Lindblad, B. A., Lundstedt, H. & Rickman, H.) 273–277 (Uppsala University Press, 1986)

  10. 10

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

  11. 11

    Nee, J. B., Suto, M. & Lee, L. C. Chem. Phys. 98, 147–155 (1985).

  12. 12

    Combes et al. Icarus 76, 404–436 (1988).

  13. 13

    Encrenaz, T. & Knacke, R. in Comets in the Post-Halley Era (eds Newburn, R. et al.) (Kluwer Academic, Dordrecht) (in the press).

  14. 14

    Baas, F., Grim, R. J. A., Geballe, W., Schutte, W. & Greenberg, J. M. in Dust in the Universe, 55–60 (eds Bailey, M. E. & Williams, D. A.) (Cambridge University Press, 1988).

  15. 15

    Geballe, T. R., Baas, F., Greenberg, J. M. & Schutte, W. Astr. Astrophys. 146, L6–L8 (1985).

  16. 16

    Yamamoto, T. Astr. Astrophys. 142, 31–36 (1985).

  17. 17

    Colom, P., Crovisier, J., Paubert, G., Bockelée-Morvan, D. & Despois, D. IAU Circ. No. 5087 (1990).

  18. 18

    Budzien, S. A., Feldman, P. D., Roettger, E. E., A'Hearn, M. F. & Festou, M. C. in Observations of Recent Comets (ed. Huebner, W. F. et al.) 64–68 (Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, 1990).

  19. 19

    Bockelée-Morvan, D., Crovisier, J., Gérard, E. & Bourgois, G. in Observations of Recent Comets (ed. Huebner, W. F. et al.) 75–79 (Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, 1990).

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bockelée-Morvan, D., Colom, P., Crovisier, J. et al. Microwave detection of hydrogen sulphide and methanol in comet Austin (1989c1). Nature 350, 318–320 (1991) doi:10.1038/350318a0

Download citation

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.