Comets' Interactions with other Solar System Bodies

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A RAS Specialist Discussion Meeting organised by:


Dr Geraint Jones (MSSL-UCL/Centre for Planetary Sciences at UCL/Birkbeck); Professor John Brown (University of Glasgow) and


Abstract: Comets have played an important role in the formation and evolution of the planets, through bombardment of their surfaces and consequent delivery of volatile species to those bodies.


Such impacts occur remarkably frequently even today as evidenced by the Shoemaker-Levy 9 event at Jupiter in 1994, and recent discoveries of impact plumes in Jupiter's atmosphere. Even without impacts, close approaches of fragile cometary nuclei to massive bodies often causes their tidal disruption.  The recently-revealed existence of main belt comets partly results from their collisions with other minor bodies.


2011-12 yielded an unexpected wealth of data and theory on the destructive interaction between comets and the inner solar atmosphere (eg. Brown et al. 2011, A&A 535, A71). SDO yielded detailed EUV observations of the demise of small comet C/2011 N3 (SOHO) in the low solar corona (Schrijver et al. 2012, Science 335, 324), while the spectacular near-destruction there of the much larger sun-grazer Comet Lovejoy was observed over a wide wavelength range. At this meeting, we shall review recent progress in understanding comets' interactions with other bodies and their atmospheres, and what we have learnt about the solar atmosphere, planets, and comets themselves through these interactions.



10:00    Registration & Coffee
    MORNING SESSION (10:30-12:00)

10:30     Karl Battams (NRL)
    Near-Sun comets observed by LASCO and SECCHI

11:05     John Brown (Glasgow)
    Destruction regimes of Sun-skimming and Sun-plunging Comets

11:25     Geraint Jones (MSSL/UCL)    
    Ion and dust tail observations of near-Sun comets

11:40     Yudish Ramanjooloo (MSSL/UCL/ING)
    Solar wind flow information from comet tail orientations

11:50     Kimberley Birkett (MSSL/UCL)    
    Modelling the sodium tails of near-Sun comets

12:00      Lunch
    Please note that we are not able to offer sandwiches for purchase at Burlington House,
    however, there are many good sandwich shops nearby.

    AFTERNOON SESSION (13:00-15:30)

13:00     Leigh Fletcher (Oxford)
    Impacts on Giant Planets

13:30     Colin Snodgrass (MPS)
    False comets: Collisions between asteroids

13:50     Sam Duddy (Kent)
    Main belt comets

14:10     Mark Price (Kent)
    Impacts on Terrestrial Planets

14:35     Ian Wright (OU)
    Rosetta-Philae: a cometary impact of a different sort

14:55     Stephen Lowry (Kent)
    Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

15:15     Discussion, including prospects and plans for Comet ISON

15:30    Tea will be available in the Lower Library of the Geological Society for those attending the Open (Monthly A&G) Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society

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