The distribution, excitation, and formation of cometary molecules: Methanol, methyl cyanide, and ethylene glycol

Anthony J. Remuan, Stefanie N. Milam, Maria Womack, A. J. Apponi, L. M. Ziurys, Susan Wyckoff, M. F. A'hearn, Imke De Pater, J. R. Forster, D. N. Friedel, Patrick Palmer, L. E. Snyder, J. M. Veal, L. M. Woodney, M. C.H. Wright

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


We present an interferometric and single-dish study of small organic species toward Comets C/1995 01 (Hale-Bopp) and C/2002 T7 (LINEAR) using the BIMA interferometer at 3 mm and the ARO 12 m telescope at 2 mm. For Comet Hale-Bopp, both the single-dish and interferometer observations of CH3OH indicate an excitation temperature of 105 ± 5K and an average production rate ratio Q2(CH3OH)/Q(H2O) ̃ 1.3% at ̃1 AU. In addition, the aperture synthesis observations of CH3OH suggest a distribution well described by a spherical outflow and no evidence of significant extended emission. Single-dish observations of CH3CN in Comet Hale-Bopp indicate an excitation temperature of 200 ± 10 K and a production rate ratio of Q(CH3CN)/Q(H2O) ̃ 0.017% at ̃1 AU. The non detection of a previously claimed transition of cometary (CH2OH)2 toward Comet Hale-Bopp with the 12 m telescope indicates a compact distribution of emission, D < 9" (<8500 km). For the single-dish observations of Comet T7 LINEAR, we find an excitation temperature of CH3OH of 35 ± 5 K and a CH3OH production rate ratio of Q(CH3OH)/Q(H2O) ̃ 1.5% at ̃0.3 AU. Our data support current chemical models that CH3OH, CH3CN, and (CH2OH)2 are parent nuclear species distributed into the coma via direct sublimation off cometary ices from the nucleus with no evidence of significant production in the outer coma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)613-621
Number of pages9
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 10 2008


  • Astrobiology
  • Comets
  • Individual (Hale Bopp [C/1995 01]
  • Interferometric
  • Linear [C/2002 T7])
  • Molecular processes
  • Radio lines
  • Solar system
  • Subject headings
  • Techniques

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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