Skip to main content

Large heterogeneities in comet 67P as revealed by active pits from sinkhole collapse

Vincent, Jean-Baptiste, Bodewits, Dennis, Besse, Sébastien, Sierks, Holger, Barbieri, Cesare, Lamy, Philippe, Rodrigo, Rafael, Koschny, Detlef, Rickman, Hans, Keller, Horst Uwe, and others. (2015) Large heterogeneities in comet 67P as revealed by active pits from sinkhole collapse. Nature, 523 . pp. 63-66. ISSN 0028-0836. (doi:10.1038/nature14564) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature14564

Abstract

Pits have been observed on many cometary nuclei mapped by spacecraft. It has been argued that cometary pits are a signature of endogenic activity, rather than impact craters such as those on planetary and asteroid surfaces. Impact experiments and models cannot reproduce the shapes of most of the observed cometary pits, and the predicted collision rates imply that few of the pits are related to impacts. Alternative mechanisms like explosive activity have been suggested, but the driving process remains unknown. Here we report that pits on comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko are active, and probably created by a sinkhole process, possibly accompanied by outbursts. We argue that after formation, pits expand slowly in diameter, owing to sublimation-driven retreat of the walls. Therefore, pits characterize how eroded the surface is: a fresh come- tary surface will have a ragged structure with many pits, while an evolved surface will look smoother. The size and spatial distribution of pits imply that large heterogeneities exist in the physical, structural or compositional properties of the first few hundred metres below the current nucleus surface.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1038/nature14564
Subjects: Q Science > QB Astronomy > QB651 Planets, Minor
Divisions: Faculties > Sciences > School of Physical Sciences > Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences
Depositing User: Stephen Lowry
Date Deposited: 15 Dec 2015 13:40 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 16:48 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/53451 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
  • Depositors only (login required):