The rotational and secular light curve of the comet 2P/Encke has been a matter of debate for some decades. Understanding of the rotational properties is fundamental to deriving information on the interior structure of comets, which in turn has implications for solar system formation and evolution. Encke is one of the best observed comets throughout history and yet these basic properties have been highly elusive. While the basic rotational period is broadly known to be approximately 11 hours, it seems to change by almost 1 percent per orbit, and the cause of the unusual single-peaked rotational light curve morphology, which could be attributed to the shape of the nucleus, complex rotation, variable albedo across the surface or a combination of those factors, has been similarly difficult to pin down. Here we present a comparison between optical and mid-Infrared light curves of Encke obtained in 2005, ruling out albedo variations and arguing for a period of 11.03 hours. Furthermore, radial profile analyses indicate that the unexpected brightness near aphelion cannot be attributed to more than 20 percent extended emission and the nucleus does truly resemble a point source.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Physics; Planetary Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Campus-only Access)
Presler-Marshall, Brynn, "An Aphelion Analysis of Comet 2P/Encke" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 916.
Restricted to the UCF community until December 2026; it will then be open access.