The trend of production rates with heliocentric distance for comet P/Halley

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Comet P/Halley was observed spectroscopically in the wavelength range 5200-10,400 Å during 10 observing runs, roughly a month apart from 1985 August 28 to 1986 June 6. The observations span a heliocentric distance from 0.73 to 2.52 AU. This data set is analyzed to determine the course of the production rate with heliocentric distance for C2, NH2, CN, and the continuum. The effect of changing the Haser scale lengths and their heliocentric distance dependence is examined. The production rate ratios to water change only in a minor way, but the absolute values of the production rates are more severly affected. Fluorescent efficiencies, or g-factors for the CN red system are calculated, and band intensity ratios for NH2 and CN are presented. Using presently available fluorescence efficiencies and Haser scale lengths, mixing ratios for the parents of C2, CN, and NH2 with respect to water are: 0.34 ± 0.07%, 0.15 ± 0.04%, and 0.13 ± 0.05%. It is found that these mixing ratios are essentially constant over the heliocentric distance range of the observations, implying a rather uniform nucleus and uniform outgassing characteristics, although there are indications of smaller scale day-to-day variations. The results provide strong observational confirmation that water evaporation controls the activity of the comet over the distance range studied. Continuum values Afρ are determined, and their ratios to QH2O are found to have a clear dependence with heliocentric distance ∼r̄1.0 with a post-perihelion enhancement. No correlation of the production rate ratios with light curve of P/Halley were found, nor was there any correlation of the C2 or CN production with the dust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)461-473
Number of pages13
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1994


  • Comets: individual (Halley)
  • Molecular processes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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