Comet West and the Scattering Function of Cometary Dust

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Science  03 Dec 1976:
Vol. 194, Issue 4269, pp. 1051-1053
DOI: 10.1126/science.194.4269.1051


Observations of Comet West (1975n) at wavelengths from 0.5 to 18 microns and at a variety of scattering angles are used to infer the scattering phase function for the cometary dust. This function is strongly peaked in the forward direction. The form of the function indicates that the particles are dielectric grains with radii of approximately 1 micron. Abrupt increases in the intrinsic brightness of the coma (both in scattered sunlight and in thermal emission) are consistent with the projected times of comet fragmentation.