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A practical tool for simulating the presence of gas comae in thermophysical modeling of cometary nuclei
Uppsala University, Teknisk-naturvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Physics, Department of Astronomy and Space Physics.
2004 (English)In: Icarus, ISSN 0019-1035, Vol. 168, no 1, 163-185 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

A longstanding problem in thermophysical modeling of cometary nuclei has been to accurately formulate the boundary conditions at the nucleus/coma interface. A correct treatment of the problem, where the Knudsen layer gas just above the cometary surface (which is not in thermodynamic equilibrium) is modeled in parallel with the nucleus, is extremely time-consuming and has so far been avoided. Instead, simplifying assumptions regarding the coma properties are used, e.g., the surface gas density is assumed equal to zero or set to the local saturation value, and the coma backflux is neglected or given some realistic but approximate value. The resulting inaccuracy regarding the exchange of mass, energy, and momentum between the nucleus and the coma, may introduce significant errors in the calculated nucleus temperature profiles, gas production rates, and momentum transfer efficiencies. In this paper, we present a practical, accurate, and time-efficient tool which makes it possible to consider the nucleus and the innermost coma of a comet (the former assumed to consist of a porous mixture of crystalline water ice and dust) as a coupled, physically consistent system. The tool consists of interpolation tables for the surface gas density and pressure, the recondensing coma backflux, and the cooling energy flux due to diffusely scattered coma molecules. The tables cover a wide range of surface temperatures and sub-surface temperature profiles, and can be used to improve the boundary conditions used in thermophysical models. The interpolation tables have been obtained by calculating the transmission distribution functions of gas emerging from sublimating porous ice/dust mixtures with various temperature profiles, which then are used as source functions in a Direct Simulation Monte Carlo model of inelastic intermolecular collisions in the Knudsen layer.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2004. Vol. 168, no 1, 163-185 p.
Keyword [en]
Comets, surfaces, structure, thermal histories
National Category
Astronomy, Astrophysics and Cosmology
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-15047DOI: doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2003.11.002OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-15047DiVA: diva2:42818
Available from: 2008-02-04 Created: 2008-02-04 Last updated: 2011-01-12

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Davidsson, Björn
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