Comet 67p/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, possible origin of the depression Hatmehit

Kossacki K., Czechowski L.


305, 2018, 1-14, 10.1016/j.icarus.2017.12.027

On the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko numerous pits and depressions of different sizes are identified. In the present work the origin of depression Hatmehit is investigated. We propose a mechanism that includes recession of the surface due to sub-dust sublimation together with formation of cavities. Recession of the surface is calculated taking into account the sub-dust sublimation of water ice with volatile organic components, formation of a strengthened ice-dust crust due to sintering of ice grains and the increase of the gas pressure in pores due to release of gaseous CO. Our simulations indicate, that the formation of a 300 m deep depression due to the sub-dust sublimation of ice can take as little as 50 orbital periods assuming that the heliocentric distance at perihelion is close to its present value (Ip. et al., 2016). When amorphous water ice is present at small depth the release of gaseous CO may cause either compression of low-strength material beneath the strengthened crust, or ejection of the crust. In both cases a cavity is formed and grows due to the sublimation of ice from the wall and the floor.