Measurements of [C I] emission from comet Hale-Bopp

R. J. Oliversen, N. Doane, F. Scherb, W. M. Harris, J. P. Morgenthaler

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16 Scopus citations


We present quantitative measurements of cometary [C I] 9850 Å emission obtained during observations of comet Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1) in 1997 March and April. The observations were carried out using a high-resolution (λ/Δλ ≈ 40,000) Fabry-Pérot/CCD spectrometer at the McMath-Pierce Solar telescope on Kitt Peak. This forbidden line, the carbon analog of [O I] 6300 Å, is emitted in the radiative decay of C(1D) atoms. In the absence of other sources and sinks, [C I] 9850 Å emission can be used as a direct tracer of CO photo-dissociation in comets. However, in Hale-Bopp's large, dense coma, other processes, such as collisional excitation of ground-state C(3P), dissociative recombination of CO+, and collisional dissociation of CO and CO2 may produce significant amounts of C(1D). The long C(1D) radiative lifetime (∼4000 s) makes collisional deexcitation (quenching) the primary loss mechanism in the inner coma. Thus, a detailed, self-consistent global model of collisional and photochemical interactions is necessary to fully account for [C I] 9850 Å emission in comet Hale-Bopp.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)770-775
Number of pages6
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Dec 10 2002


  • Comets: individual (Hale-Bopp (C/1995 O1))

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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