Ground-based multiwavelength observations of comet 103P/Hartley 2

A. Gicquel*, S. N. Milam, G. L. Villanueva, A. J. Remijan, I. M. Coulson, Y. L. Chuang, S. B. Charnley, M. A. Cordiner, Y. J. Kuan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The Jupiter-family comet 103P/Hartley 2 (103P) was the target of the NASA EPOXI mission. In support of this mission, we conducted observations from radio to submillimeter wavelengths of comet 103P in the three weeks preceding the spacecraft rendezvous on UT 2010 November 4.58. This time period included the passage at perihelion and the closest approach of the comet to the Earth. Here, we report detections of HCN, H2CO, CS, and OH and upper limits for HNC and DCN toward 103P using the Arizona Radio Observatory Kitt Peak 12 m telescope (ARO 12 m) and submillimeter telescope (SMT), the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT), and the Green Bank Telescope (GBT). The water production rate, = (0.67-1.07) × 1028s-1, was determined from the GBT OH data. From the average abundance ratios of HCN and H2CO relative to water (0.13 ± 0.03% and 0.14 ± 0.03%, respectively), we conclude that H2CO is depleted and HCN is normal with respect to typically observed cometary mixing ratios. However, the abundance ratio of HCN with water shows a large diversity with time. Using the JCMT data, we measured an upper limit for the DCN/HCN ratio <0.01. Consecutive observations of ortho-H2CO and para-H2CO on November 2 (from data obtained at the JCMT) allowed us to derive an ortho:para ratio (OPR) of 2.12 ± 0.59 (1σ), corresponding to Tspin> 8 K (2σ).

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Oct 10


  • astrobiology
  • comets: individual (103P/Hartley2)
  • radio lines: planetary systems
  • submillimeter: planetary systems
  • techniques: spectroscopic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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