Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Pierce, Donna M.

Committee Member

Tanner, Angelle M.

Committee Member

Wang, Chuji

Committee Member

Anderson, Derek

Committee Member

Berg, Matthew J.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Applied Physics

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


James Worth Bagley College of Engineering


Applied Physics Program


In 2010, comet 103P/Hartley 2 was observed pre- and post-perihelion using the George and Cynthia Mitchell Integral Field Spectrometer on the 2.7-m telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas. Data for gaseous radicals C2, C3, CH, CN, and NH2 were collected over six nights from 15 July to 10 November. The spectral data were used to create coma maps for each of the observed species, and the maps were processed using radial and azimuthal mean division techniques to create enhanced images of the coma, revealing subtle morphological features. 340 enhanced coma images were created for each observation and species. Visual inspection reveals that the coma is heterogeneous between the five detected radicals, and statistical analyses verify this result. To compliment the ongoing investigation of Hartley 2 as studied by the EPOXI flyby mission, findings from other researchers (Belton et al., 2012; Syal et al., 2012; and Thomas et al., 2012) are used to characterize the nucleus spin state and identify dust jet locations on the nucleus. With rotational period measurements from EPOXI, dust jet vectors on the nucleus surface are rotated to relevant observation times in November to compare the computed jet directions with the radical densities in the coma. Dust jet sites on the smaller nucleus lobe show a stronger correlation with high radical concentrations than the dust sites on the larger nucleus lobe. Production rates for potential parentage of radical species are calculated using the radial outflow Haser model (Haser, 1957), which are compared to mixing ratios relative to water from separate campaigns to constrain parentage. NH3 is likely the sole producer of NH2, whereas CN may be produced from a combination of HCN, C2N2, and CH3CN. Traditional parentage of C2, C3, and CH do not yield acceptable fits or suitable mixing ratios with the Haser model, and it is possible that extended coma ices having relatively short scale lengths greatly contribute to production of these radicals. These results provide further evidence that the Hartley 2 nucleus is heterogeneous in composition, and the rotational analysis indicates that specific jet sites are correlated with certain radical species.



Mitchell Spectrometer||coma radicals||103P||comet rotation