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Astron. Astrophys. 335, L50-L55 (1998)

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Letter to the Editor

Narrowband photometric results for comet 46P/Wirtanen

T.L. Farnham and D.G. Schleicher

Lowell Observatory, 1400 West Mars Hill Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001, USA

Received 13 November 1997 / Accepted 13 March 1998


Narrowband filter photometry was performed on the ROSETTA spacecraft target, comet 46P/Wirtanen, at Lowell Observatory in 1991 and 1997. Production rates were determined for OH, NH, CN, C3, and C2, along with a measure of the dust production, [FORMULA]. Relative abundances were computed, and a comparison to other comets indicates that this comet has a "typical" composition and a very low dust-to-gas ratio. The peak value of [FORMULA] was 138 cm, while the OH production rates, used in conjunction with a standard water production model, yield a peak water production of [FORMULA]1.0[FORMULA]1028 mol s-1 at perihelion and suggest a minimum active surface area of [FORMULA]1.8 km2. Finally, a comparison to comet Halley puts Wirtanen into context with previous in situ comet measurements.

Key words: comets: general – comets: individual: 46P/Wirtanen – techniques: photometric

Send offprint requests to: T.L. Farnham

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: June 18, 1998