Comet 9P/Tempel 1: Sublimation beneath the dust cover

Kossacki, KJ; Szutowicz, S.


195(2), 2008, 705-724, 10.1016/j.icarus.2007.12.014

In the current work we analyze properties of the dust mantle, its thickness and thermal conductivity, necessary to reproduce observed rate of water production of Comet 9P/Tempel 1. For this purpose we considered simplified shape of the comet nucleus approximated by the symmetric prolate ellipsoid with smooth surface. We have performed simulations, using models with dust mantle of the thickness either constant, but nonuniform (Model A), or evolving (Model B). The simulated profiles of water production versus time were compared with observations. In addition, we compared the calculated surface temperature with the real temperatures derived from IR observations (the Deep Impact mission). This new double-stage verification procedure, shows that our model A is a good representation for the nucleus of Comet Tempel 1. This indicates, that the dust mantle thickness should be nonuniform, but does not change significantly with time. We show, that reproducing observed high temperatures of the nucleus requires dust mantle, that is almost everywhere thick and has extremely low thermal inertia. The latter should be close to zero as already predicted by others. The agreement between the simulated and measured water production can be obtained when the dust is regionally thin and has the thermal inertia higher than average, according to our simulations about 100 W s1/2 K−1 m−2. Such regions should be located in the south hemisphere of the nucleus.