A Hundred Comets: The Visual-Wavelength Observations of the Survey of Ensemble Physical Properties of Cometary Nuclei (SEPPCoN)

James M. Bauer, Y. R. Fernandez, S. C. Lowry, K. J. Meech, A. Fitzsimmons, C. Snodgrass, J. Pittichova, H. A. Weaver, C. M. Lisse, M. F. A'Hearn, H. Campins, O. Groussin, M. S. Kelley, P. L. Lamy, J. Licandro, W. T. Reach, I. Toth

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract

Abstract

We present new results from SEPPCoN, a Survey of Ensemble Physical Properties of Cometary Nuclei. This project is currently surveying 100 Jupiter-family comets (JFCs) to measure the mid-infrared thermal emission and visible reflected sunlight of the nuclei. The scientific goal is to determine the distributions of radius, geometric albedo, thermal inertia, axial ratio, and color among the JFC nuclei. In the past we have presented results from the completed mid-IR observations of our sample [1]; here we present preliminary results from ongoing, broadband visible-wavelength observations of nuclei obtained from a variety of ground-based facilities (Mauna Kea, Cerro Pachon, La Silla, La Palma, Apache Point, Table Mtn., and Palomar Mtn.), including contributions from the Near Earth Asteroid Telescope project (NEAT) archive. The nuclei were observed at high heliocentric distance (usually over 4 AU) and so many comets show either no or little contamination from dust coma. While several nuclei have been observed as snapshots, we have multiepoch photometry for many of our targets. With our datasets we are building a large database of photometry, and such a database is essential to the derivation of albedo and shape of a large number of nuclei, and to the understanding of biases in the survey. Support for this work was provided by NSF and the NASA Planetary Astronomy program. Reference: [1] Fernandez, Y.R., et al. 2007, BAAS 39, 827.
Original languageEnglish
Pages816
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2010

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