Observations of Energetic Ions from Comet Giacobini-Zinner

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Science  18 Apr 1986:
Vol. 232, Issue 4748, pp. 361-365
DOI: 10.1126/science.232.4748.361


During the encounter with comet Giacobini-Zinner, the energetic particle anisotropy spectrometer on the International Cometary Explorer spacecraft observed large fluxes of energetic ions, believed to result principally from ionization of the cometary atmosphere followed by pickup and acceleration by the ambient flow of the solar wind. These heavy cometary ions were observed from approximately 1 day before closest approach to about 2½ days afterward. Three regimes of differing ion characteristics have been identified. An outer region with a scale of ∼106 kilometers contains variable fluxes of antisolar-streaming pick-up ions in the undisturbed solar wind. In the middle region, of ∼105 kilometers, fluxes have less large-scale variability and broader angular and energy distributions. This region is separated from the outer zone by a sharp transition. The inner region has a scale of ∼104 kilometers and is characterized by reduced fluxes and complex angular distributions.