Polymers in Comet Comae

  1. J. H. Waite Jr.,
  2. J. L. Burch and
  3. R. L. Moore
  1. W. F. Huebner and
  2. D. C. Boice

Published Online: 18 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1029/GM054p0453

Solar System Plasma Physics

Solar System Plasma Physics

How to Cite

Huebner, W. F. and Boice, D. C. (1989) Polymers in Comet Comae, in Solar System Plasma Physics (eds J. H. Waite, J. L. Burch and R. L. Moore), American Geophysical Union, Washington, D. C.. doi: 10.1029/GM054p0453

Author Information

  1. Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, TX 78284

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 18 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 1 JAN 1989

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780875900742

Online ISBN: 9781118664315



  • Space plasmas;
  • Sun;
  • Magnetosphere;
  • Astrophysics


Heavy ions have been detected in the coma of Comet Halley with various instruments on the Giotto and Vega spacecraft. Ions of sulfur and sulfur compounds are one class of species that can account for some masses observed in the ion mass spectrometer, but other heavy mass components are still not identified. The ionized decay products of a polymer, polyoxymethylene (POM), have been identified from the PICCA mass peaks at 45, 61, 75, 91, and 105 AMU. POM appears to be associated with the dust component of the coma. We suggest that polymers are a source for many unidentified species and that POM, in particular, is responsible for the observed extended source of CO in the coma. There are indications that at least one other polymer, containing CN, is associated with the dust and may be responsible for some of the unidentified mass spectra. We present results from our chemical coma model and suggest polymers and their ionic fragments that show potential for detection in existing spectra or future in situ measurements.