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Are cometary nuclei primordial rubble piles?Whipple's icy conglomerate model for the cometary nucleus has had considerable sucess in explaining a variety of cometary phenomena such as gas production rates and nongravitational forces. However, as discussed here, both observational evidence and theoretical considerations suggest that the cometary nucleus may not be a well-consolidated single body, but may instead be a loosely bound agglomeration of smaller fragments, weakly bonded and subject to occasional or even frequent disruptive events. The proposed model is analogous to the 'rubble pile' model suggested for the larger main-belt asteroids, although the larger cometary fragments are expected to be primordial condensations rather than collisionally derived debris as in the asteroid case. The concept of cometary nuclei as primordial rubble piles is proposed as a modification of the basic Whipple model, not as a replacement for it.
Document ID
19860047497
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
External Source(s)
Authors
Weissman, P. R. (California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, United States)
Date Acquired
August 12, 2013
Publication Date
March 20, 1986
Publication Information
Publication: Nature
Volume: 320
ISSN: 0028-0836
Subject Category
ASTROPHYSICS
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other