Evidence for Interacting Gas Flows and an Extended Volatile Source Distribution in the Coma of Comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake)

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Science  01 Aug 1997:
Vol. 277, Issue 5326, pp. 676-681
DOI: 10.1126/science.277.5326.676

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Images of comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) taken during its close approach to Earth show differences in the distribution of gas and dust in the inner coma and reveal two arc-shaped molecular resonant emission features. The morphology of these features, as well as the apparent decoupling gas from dust in the inner coma, suggest that an extended region of icy grains surrounds the nucleus of Hyakutake and contributes substantially to the production of volatiles. Model simulations suggest the same conclusion and indicate that the brighter arc is explainable by the presence of a trailing condensation of ice-bearing granules with a rate of volatile production approximately 23 percent of that of the nucleus.

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