Observations of the Hydrogen Cyanide in Comet 46P/Wirtanen at a 3.4 mm Wavelength

Zhen Wang, Shao Bo Zhang, Wei Ling Tseng, Ji Xian Sun, Ying Liao, Wing Huen Ip, Xing Wu Zheng, Na Wang, Deng Rong Lu, Lue Chen, Hao Shan, Ye Yuan, Jian Guo Yan, Jin Song Ping

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


We searched for rotational lines of H12C14N in comet 46P/Wirtanen, using the Purple Mountain Observatory 13.7 m radio telescope. The J = 1-0 lines of HCN (3.4 mm wavelength) were unambiguously detected in 46P during the 2018 December 14-15 period, with a beam resolution of 62.″2 and a velocity resolution of ∼0.21 km s-1 per channel. The molecular production rates were computed. The mean HCN(1-0) production rate of 46P was (6.45 ± 1.31) × 1024 molec s-1 in the above two days. We found possible indications of time variation in the outgassing activity. The average HCN abundance relative to water Q [HCN]/Q[H2O] of 46P was (0.09 ± 0.01)%. The HCN line shapes gave primary information on the kinematics of the cometary atmosphere. The HCN linewidths provided a direct determination of the coma expansion velocity, which was about 0.5 ± 0.05 km s-1 at post-perihelion (1.056 au).

Original languageEnglish
Article number238
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 May

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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