Chandra observations of comet 9P/Tempel 1 during the Deep Impact campaign

C. M. Lisse*, K. Dennerl, D. J. Christian, S. J. Wolk, D. Bodewits, T. H. Zurbuchen, K. C. Hansen, R. Hoekstra, M. Combi, C. D. Fry, M. Dryer, T. Maekinen, W. Sun, K.C. Jansen, T. Mäkinen

*Corresponding author for this work

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10 Citations (Scopus)


We present results from the Chandra X-ray Observatory's extensive campaign studying Comet 9P/Tempel 1 (T1) in support of NASA's Deep Impact (DI) mission. T1 was observed for similar to 295 ks between 30th June and 24th July 2005, and continuously for similar to 64 ks on July 4th during the impact event. X-ray emission qualitatively similar to that observed for the collisionally thin Comet 2P/Encke system [Lisse, C.M., Christian, D.J., Dennerl, K., Wolk, S.J., Bodewits, D., Hoekstra, R., Combi, MR, Makinen, T., Dryer, M., Fry, C.D., Weaver, H., 2005b. Astrophys. J. 635 (2005) 1329-1347] was found, with emission morphology centered on the nucleus and emission lines due to C, N, O, and Ne solar wind minor ions. The comet was relatively faint on July 4th, and the total increase in X-ray flux due to the Deep Impact event was small, similar to 20% of the immediate pre-impact value, consistent with estimates that the total coma neutral gas release due to the impact was 5 x 10(6) kg (similar to 10 It of normal emission). No obvious prompt X-ray flash due to the impact was seen. Extension of the emission in the direction of outflow of the ejecta was observed, suggesting the presence of continued outgassing of this material. Variable spectral features due to changing solar wind flux densities and charge states were clearly seen. Two peaks, much stronger than the man-made increase due to Deep Impact, were found in the observed X-rays oil June 30th and July 8th, 2005, and are coincident with increases in the solar wind flux arriving at the cornet. Modeling of the Chandra data using observed gas production rates and ACE solar wind ion fluxes with a CXE mechanism for the emission is consistent, overall, with the temporal and spectral behavior expected for a slow, hot wind typical of low latitude emission from the solar corona interacting with the comet's neutral coma, with intermittent impulsive events due to solar flares and coronal mass ejections. (C) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-405
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct-2007


  • Comet Tempel-1
  • comets
  • coma
  • comets
  • plasma
  • solar wind
  • spectroscopy
  • C/1999 S4

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