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Cometary grain scattering versus wavelength, or 'What color is comet dust'?
Jewitt, David; Meech, Karen J.
AA(MIT, Cambridge, MA), AB(MIT, Cambridge, MA)
Astrophysical Journal, Part 1 (ISSN 0004-637X), vol. 310, Nov. 15, 1986, p. 937-952. NASA-supported research. (ApJ Homepage)
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NASA/STI Keywords:
Astronomical Spectroscopy, Cometary Atmospheres, Cosmic Dust, Scattering Functions, Interstellar Matter, Mie Scattering, Near Infrared Radiation, Reflectance, Visible Spectrum
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Optical and near-infrared observations of comets are combined in a systematic study of the wavelength dependence of the scattering from cometary grains. The normalized rate of change of the reflectivity of cometary grains with respect to the wavelength of observations decreases as the wavelength increases. The observed wavelength dependence of the reflectivity gradient is consistent with an origin by scattering from micron-sized or larger, slightly absorbing spheres. The optically important comet grains are about an order of magnitude larger than the optically important interstellar grains. This size difference is a probable result of grain growth in the cloud from which the comets condensed. Grain properties differ so widely among the comets that any phase angle or heliocentric distance dependences of the continuum color are hidden.

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