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Astron. Astrophys. 333, 369-373 (1998)

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1. Introduction

Imaging spectroscopy is a powerful tool for the studying of planetary bodies. This technique provides the spectrum of each point in the scene, the so-called image cube (Vane et al. 1993). Since the spectrum contains direct information on the mineralogy and composition of the body, image cubes analysis allows the study of spatial distribution of mineral constituents present in the observed object. A drawback of this technique is the long observation time necessary to have good signal-to-noise ratio data. An imaging spectrometer, in fact, produces images in several narrow spectral bands ([FORMULA] 100), thus requiring either high light fluxes or long exposures. The situation is then more difficult in case of comets, which are normally faint objects. Comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) has provided the opportunity to observe a very bright comet. In this paper we present image cubes of comet Hale-Bopp taken in the 0.4-1 µm spectral range. The signal-to-noise ratio of the data allows a restricted part of the coma to be investigated. In our study we concentrate mostly on the spatial distribution of the dust continuum emission. The gas emission features are not discussed here in depth and will be the subject of a separate paper.

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© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: April 15, 1998