On the Possibility of Significant Electron Depletion Due to Nanograin Charging in the Coma of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Near Perihelion
2015 (English)In: Astrophysical Journal, ISSN 0004-637X, E-ISSN 1538-4357, Vol. 798, no 2, 130Article in journal (Refereed) Published
We approach the complicated phenomena of gas-dust interactions in a cometary ionosphere, focusing in particular on the possibility of significant depletion in electron number density due to grain charging. Our one-dimensional ionospheric model, accounting for grain charging processes, is applied to the subsolar direction and the diamagnetic cavity of 67P/Churyuomov-Gerasimenko, the target comet for the ESA Rosetta mission, at perihelion (similar to 1.25-1.30 AU). We argue on the one hand that grains with radii >100 nm are unlikely to significantly affect the overall ionospheric particle balance within this environment, at least for cometocentric distances >10 km. On the other hand, if nanograins with radii in the 1-3 nm range are ejected to the coma at a level of similar to 1% with respect to the mass of the sublimated gas, a significant electron depletion is expected up to cometocentric distances of several tens of kilometers. We relate these results to the recent Cassini discoveries of very pronounced electron depletion compared with the positive ion population in the plume of Enceladus, which has been attributed to nanograin charging.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 798, no 2, 130
comets: individual (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko), molecular processes
Fusion, Plasma and Space Physics
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-251538DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/798/2/130ISI: 000350853700065OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-251538DiVA: diva2:806532