Sublimation-driven evolution of the local radius and the moment of inertia of a long-period comet

Dziak-Jankowska B, Leliwa-Kopystynski J, Kossacki KJ

Acta Geophysica

57(2), 2009, 509–535, 10.2478/s11600-009-0005-x

In this paper we intend to analyze how the sublimation of ice from cometary nuclei affects changes of the moments of inertia. Our aim is to show general trends for different orientations of cometary nucleus’ rotation axis. Thus we apply numerical model of a hypothetical homogeneous and initially spherical nucleus composed of water ice and dust. As an example we present simulations for a model comet of the orbital elements and the nucleus size the same as determined for C/1995 O1 Hale-Bopp, a widely analyzed long-period comet. We calculated water production from the nucleus and changes of the shape (initially spherical) and of the moment of inertia versus time. Simulations are performed for the full range (0–90°) of inclinations I of the rotation axis. The second paramater related to the orientation of the rotation axis is the argument Φ (0–360°). The heat conductivity of the nucleus spans over the vast range, 0.04–4 W m−1 K−1.