Oxygen on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet escapes from an internal reservoir

The presence of oxygen in emissions from comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko) does not indicate a large amount of this element in its composition. It moves out of two reservoirs in the depths of the cometary core. It is not yet known how they were formed.

The comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, where oxygen was found. Source: Scitechdaily.com

Where does oxygen come from on the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet

Scientists from the Laboratory of Applied Physics at Johns Hopkins University published the article in which they found that the presence of oxygen in gas jets from the Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet does not necessarily indicate that there is really a lot of this element in its composition. Thus they solved the riddle that arose as a result of the study of this “cosmic guest“. 

The researchers analyzed how the content of various elements in the gases of the comet changes as its core rotates around its own axis. Thus one or other “hemisphere“ turns out to be illuminated by the sun. It was expected that the content of oxygen in the “exhaust“ would be associated with the water in it. This would be logical in view of the fact that this substance was considered its source.

However, as the comet rotated, the amount of water gradually decreased, and the amount of oxygen remained almost unchanged. It turned out to be “tied“ to carbon oxides. This helped scientists figure out where it comes from on the comet.

According to them, oxygen is contained in two reservoirs, one of which is located at the center of the comet’s core, and the second, smaller one is directly below the surface. And the main source is exactly the inner cavity filled with a mixture of oxygen, carbon monoxide and dioxide.

The mystery of the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko

New research makes it possible to explain the discrepancy that has bothered astronomers for several years. The thing is, that oxygen is not a widespread element in the Universe. And there just cannot be such a quantity of it in the composition of the comet. At least if it is formed from water.

A new research allows us to clarify the situation. There may not be a huge amount of water and oxygen on the comet Churyumov-Gerasimenk. No matter how large the internal reservoir is, the amount of oxygen in it is relatively small, just a lot of oxygen emanuates at once.

However, this is where the understandable things end. Carbon oxides could get inside the comet only from a rich part of the protoplanetary gaseous dust cloud. How did this happen and why there was so much oxygen in the nebula remains a mystery.

According to Рhys.org