The Spectrum and Spatial Distribution of Cyanogen in Comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) at Large Heliocentric Distance

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Science  28 Mar 1997:
Vol. 275, Issue 5308, pp. 1918-1920
DOI: 10.1126/science.275.5308.1918

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Optical spectra of comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) at a heliocentric distance of 6.45 astronomical units showed emission from cyanogen gas. The spatial distribution of cyanogen was considerably more diffuse and extended compared to the spatial profile of the dust or grains which were sharply peaked near the center. This behavior is consistent with comets at smaller heliocentric distances suggesting the same or a similar formation mechanism. A cyanogen gas production rate of (1.2 ± 0.3) ×1026 molecules per second was derived. A model band profile derived from fluorescence equilibrium calculations for the comet's heliocentric velocity and distance agrees with the observed band profile.

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