Search for methane in comet P/Halley

  • S. Drapatz
  • H. P. Larson
  • D. S. Davis
Conference paper


A search for gaseous neutral CH4 has been conducted in the coma of comet Halley on March 20, 1986 using a Fourier Transform Spectrometer on the NASA Kuiper Airborne Observatory. In the field-of-view (41″ diam. ≙ 24,000 km) the CH4 rotational temperature is equal to the kinetic temperature of the coma molecules due to collisions in most of the region and is frozen in at the outer edge. The spectrum of the v 3 band is due to fluorescence with the R(3) to R(6) lines being most suitable for Earth-based observations. Measured upper (3 σ) limits of ~4 10−19 W cm −2 for several lines lead to a (5σ) upper limit of 4 1028 CH4 molecules per second. This value corresponds to ~4% of the water vapor production rate at the time of observation.

Key words

comets molecules abundances infrared observations 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Drapatz
    • 1
  • H. P. Larson
    • 2
  • D. S. Davis
    • 2
  1. 1.Max- Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische PhysikGarchingFederal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.The University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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