American University
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Molecular composition of comet 46P/Wirtanen from millimetre-wave spectroscopy

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-08-05, 13:16 authored by Nicolas Biver, Dominique Bockelée-Morvan, Jérémie Boissier, R. Moreno, Jacques Crovisier, Darek Lis, Pierre Colom, Martin A. Cordiner, Stefanie N. Milam, Nathan X. Roth, Boncho Bonev, Neil Dello Russo, Ronald J. Vervack, Jr., Michael A. DiSanti

We present the results of a molecular survey of comet 46P/Wirtanen undertaken with the IRAM 30-m and NOEMA radio telescopes in December 2018. Observations at IRAM 30-m during the 12–18 December period comprise a 2 mm spectral survey covering 25 GHz and a 1 mm survey covering 62 GHz. The gas outflow velocity and kinetic temperature have been accurately constrained by the observations. We derive abundances of 11 molecules, some being identified remotely for the first time in a Jupiter-family comet, including complex organic molecules such as formamide, ethylene glycol, acetaldehyde, or ethanol. Sensitive upper limits on the abundances of 24 other molecules are obtained. The comet is found to be relatively rich in methanol (3.4% relative to water), but relatively depleted in CO, CS, HNC, HNCO, and HCOOH.



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Astronomy and Astrophysics, Volume 648, 1 April 2021, Article number A49.


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