Imaging Borrelly

L. A. Soderblom, D. C. Boice, D. T. Britt, R. H. Brown, B. J. Buratti, R. L. Kirk, M. Lee, R. M. Nelson, J. Oberst, B. R. Sandel, S. A. Stern, N. Thomas, R. V. Yelle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The nucleus, coma, and dust jets of short-period Comet 19P/Borrelly were imaged from the Deep Space 1 spacecraft during its close flyby in September 2001. A prominent jet dominated the near-nucleus coma and emanated roughly normal to the long axis of nucleus from a broad central cavity. We show it to have remained fixed in position for more than 34 hr, much longer than the 26-hr rotation period. This confirms earlier suggestions that it is co-aligned with the rotation axis. From a combination of fitting the nucleus light curve from approach images and the nucleus' orientation from stereo images at encounter, we conclude that the sense of rotation is right-handed around the main jet vector. The inferred rotation pole is approximately perpendicular to the long axis of the nucleus, consistent with a simple rotational state. Lacking an existing IAU comet-specific convention but applying a convention provisionally adopted for asteroids, we label this the north pole. This places the sub-solar latitude at ∼60° N at the time of the perihelion with the north pole in constant sunlight and thus receiving maximum average insolation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-15
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


  • 19P/Borrelly
  • Borrelly
  • Coma
  • Comet
  • Deep Space 1
  • Dust jet
  • Imaging
  • Nucleus
  • Rotation axis
  • Rotation pole
  • Short-period comets
  • Topography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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