Dust Grains in the Comae and Tails of Sungrazing Comets: Modeling of Their Mineralogical and Morphological Properties
Observations of sungrazing comets, all of which belong to the Kreutz family, provide the opportunity of studying the properties of dust in the comae and tails of the comets. On the basis of available information on cometary and interplanetary dust as well as observations of dust in the tails of sungrazers, we model dust in sungrazing comets as fluffy silicate aggregates of submicrometer sizes. To better interpret observational data, we numerically calculate the solar radiation pressure, the equilibrium temperature, and the sublimation and crystallization rates of silicate grains near the Sun. Our results show that the dust tails contain aggregates of submicrometer crystal grains, but not amorphous grains, since amorphous silicates mostly crystallize after release from the comets. The peak in the lightcurves of the dust comae observed either at 11.2 or 12.3 solar radii ( R⊙) seems to result from sublimation of fluffy aggregates consisting of crystalline or amorphous olivines, respectively. We attribute an additional enhancement in the lightcurves inside 7 R⊙ to increasing out-flow of crystalline and amorphous pyroxenes composed fluffy aggregates. According to our model, the observed lightcurves indicate a high abundance of olivine and a low abundance of pyroxene in the comets, which may bear implications about the dynamical and thermal history of the sungrazers and their progenitor.