On the Dust Environment of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) from 12 AU Pre-perihelion to the End of its Activity around Perihelion

Moreno, F.; Pozuelos, F.; Aceituno, F.; Casanova, V.; Duffard, R.; López-Moreno, J. J.; Molina, A.; Ortiz, J. L.; Santos-Sanz, P.; Sota, A.; Diepvens, A.; Segundo, A. S.; Bell, C.; Labordena, C.; Bryssinck, E.; Cortés, E.; Reina, E.; García, F.; Gómez, F.; Limón, F.; Soldán, F.; Tifner, F.; Muler, G.; Almendros, I.; Aledo, J.; Bel, J.; Carrillo, J.; Castellano, J.; Curto, J.; Gaitan, J.; Salto, J. L.; Lopesino, J.; Lozano, J.; Hernández, J. F.; González, J. J.; Martín, J. L.; Aymamí, J. M.; Bosch, J. M.; Fernández, J. M.; Vidal, J. R.; Montoro, L.; Tremosa, L.; Campas, M.; Canales, O.; Dekelver, P. J.; Benavides, R.; Naves, R.; Castillo, R.; Climent, T.; Cupillari, T.; Yanamandra-Fisher, P.
The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 791, Issue 2, article id. 118, 16 pp. (2014).


A Monte Carlo dust tail model has been applied to extract the dust environment parameters of the comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) from both Earth-based and SOHO LASCO C3 observations, performed from about six astronomical units (AU) inbound, to just after perihelion passage, when only a small portion of the original comet nucleus has survived in the form of a cloud of tiny particles. The early Afρ and image data are consistent with particle ejection from an extended active area located at latitudes 35°N to 90°N (for a prograde rotating nucleus), with the spin axis having a large obliquity (I ~ 70°). This configuration nicely fits the early images and Afρ data until 3.9 AU inbound, when the emission should become isotropic in order to fit the data. The analysis of LASCO images reveals that, assuming an original nucleus of RN = 500 m with ρ = 1000 kg m–3, at least half of its mass was vaporized when the comet was at about 17 R  inbound. We conclude that at that time the nucleus suffered a cataclysmic fragmentation releasing a huge amount of material of 2.3 ×1011 kg, equivalent to a sphere of 380 m in radius with density 1000 kg m–3. The surviving material after perihelion passage consists of very small dust particles of 0.1-50 μm in radius with a total mass of just 6.7×108 kg.