20-EPN-060: Characterise UV-Optical emission by conducting electron impact reactions on molecules relevant to the atmospheres of small bodies in our Solar System
October 8, 2022

20-EPN-060: Characterise UV-Optical emission by conducting electron impact reactions on molecules relevant to the atmospheres of small bodies in our solar system

Virtual visit by Dennis Bodewits, Auburn University (USA), to TA2 Facility 13 – Electron Induced Fluorescence Laboratory (Slovakia).
Dates of visit: 21-29 July 2022

Report Summary: Auroral emissions from electron impact processes provide the opportunity to remotely characterize the physical properties of plasma and neutral gases surrounding small bodies. Surprisingly, Rosetta found that outside 2 AU, atomic and molecular emission features in the inner coma were predominantly caused by dissociative electron impact excitation. These emission features provide a wealth of information on local plasma conditions and through excited fragment species, it can allow for the measurement of chemical abundances of species that may otherwise not be easily detected remotely (CO2, O2).

We conducted electron impact experiments at the electron induced fluorescence laboratory at Comenius University (Bratislava, Slovak Republic) to characterize electron-impact induced emission of fragment species in the neutral gas surrounding comets and other small bodies in our solar system. For this project, we studied collisions between electrons up to 100 eV and CO2 and CO molecules. We measured velocity-dependent emission cross sections, determine activation thresholds of relevant reactions, and construct a spectral atlas that will aid observers and astrophysical modelers.


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