A model of comet P/Giacobini-Zinner



A computer model of Comet P/Giacobini-Zinner is presented which contains photo-processes, gas-phase chemical kinetics, energy balance, multifluid hydrodynamics with a transition to free molecular flow, and solar wind interaction. Recently, the physics for electrons in the model has been improved by including electron impact ionization and dissociation and separately accounting for electron energetics. Electron heating and cooling mechanisms include photoprocesses, recombination processes, inelastic and elastic collisions with heavy molecules, and expansion cooling. The model incorporates an internally consistent interaction of the solar wind with the coma gas using the axisymmetric ideal fluid dynamic equations.

The nuclear size and composition have been chosen to make the calculations relevant to the 11 September 1985 International Cometary Explorer (ICE) encounter with Comet P/Giacobini-Zinner. Model profiles of the temperature, velocity, and number density of the electrons are in good agreement with measurements along ICE's trajectory. These results indicate that the probe passed through a region of the coma at the onset of the plasma tail.