Evidence for low tensile strength in comet nuclei

R. Kokotanekova, Colin Snodgrass, P. Lacerda, S. C. Lowry, Y. R. Fernández, S. F. Green, C. Tubiana, A. Fitzsimmons, H. H. Hsieh

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


We provide an updated study of the collective properties of Jupiter Family comets (JFCs) by increasing the sample of comets with well-studied rotation periods and surface characteristics. To collect the sample, we review the properties of 35 JFCs with published rotation rates and add new lightcurves and phase functions for nine JFCs observed between 2004 and 2015. We use the extended sample of 37 comets to characterise the bulk density, tensile strength, collisional history and surface properties of JFCs. Using the model for stability of rotating solid biaxial ellipsoids by Davidsson (2001), we conclude that none of the observed JFCs require tensile strength larger than 10-25 Pa to remain stable against rotational breakup.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sept 2017


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