Morphology of HCN and CN in Comet Hale-Bopp (1995 O1)

L. M. Woodney*, M. F. A'Hearn, David G. Schleicher, Tony L. Farnham, J. P. McMullin, M. C.H. Wright, J. M. Veal, Lewis E. Snyder, Imke De Pater, J. R. Forster, Patrick Palmer, Y. J. Kuan, Wendy R. Williams, Chi C. Cheung, Bridget R. Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


We compare images of Comet Hale-Bopp (1995 O1) in HCN and CN taken near perihelion (April 1, 1997) to determine the origin of CN in comets. We imaged the J = 1 → 0 transition of HCN at γ = 3 mm with the BIMA Array. Data from two weeks around perihelion were summed within four phase bins based on the rotational period of the comet. This increases both the signal-to-noise ratio and the u-v coverage while decreasing the smearing of the spatial features. The similarly phased narrowband CN images were taken at Lowell Observatory within the same range of dates as the HCN images. We find that there is a better correlation between HCN and CN than between HCN and the optically dominant dust. If the CN in jets does have a dust source it would have to have a very low albedo and/or small particle size. The production rates are consistent with HCN being a primary parent of CN, although there are discrepancies between the HCN destruction scalelength and the CN production scalelength which we discuss.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-204
Number of pages12
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Comets
  • Data reduction techniques
  • Hale-Bopp
  • Photochemistry
  • Radio observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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