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Rotation of cometary nuclei: new light curves and an update of the ensemble properties of Jupiter-family comets

Kokotanekova, R., Snodgrass, C., Lacerda, P., Green, S. F., Lowry, S.C., Fernández, Y. R., Tubiana, C., Fitzsimmons, A., Hsieh, H. H. (2017) Rotation of cometary nuclei: new light curves and an update of the ensemble properties of Jupiter-family comets. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 471 (3). pp. 2974-3007. ISSN 0035-8711. E-ISSN 1365-2966. (doi:10.1093/mnras/stx1716) (KAR id:63517)

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We report new light curves and phase functions for nine Jupiter-family comets (JFCs). They were observed in the period 2004–2015 with various ground telescopes as part of the Survey of Ensemble Physical Properties of Cometary Nuclei as well as during devoted observing campaigns. We add to this a review of the properties of 35 JFCs with previously published rotation properties. The photometric time series were obtained in Bessel R, Harris R and SDSS r? filters and were absolutely calibrated using stars from the Pan-STARRS survey. This specially developed method allowed us to combine data sets taken at different epochs and instruments with absolute-calibration uncertainty down to 0.02 mag. We used the resulting time series to improve the rotation periods for comets 14P/Wolf, 47P/Ashbrook–Jackson, 94P/Russell and 110P/Hartley 3 and to determine the rotation rates of comets 93P/Lovas and 162P/Siding Spring for the first time. In addition to this, we determined the phase functions for seven of the examined comets and derived geometric albedos for eight of them. We confirm the known cut-off in bulk densities at ?0.6 g cm?3 if JFCs are strengthless. Using a model for prolate ellipsoids with typical density and elongations, we conclude that none of the known JFCs requires tensile strength larger than 10–25 Pa to remain stable against rotational instabilities. We find evidence for an increasing linear phase function coefficient with increasing geometric albedo. The median linear phase function coefficient for JFCs is 0.046 mag deg?1 and the median geometric albedo is 4.2 per cent.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1093/mnras/stx1716
Uncontrolled keywords: comets: general
Divisions: Faculties > Sciences > School of Physical Sciences
Depositing User: Stephen Lowry
Date Deposited: 21 Sep 2017 14:17 UTC
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2020 11:39 UTC
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