Cometary Rotation: An Overview

David Jewitt

Moon and Planets, 1999, 79, 35-53.

I discuss our current understanding of the spin states of cometary nuclei. Cometary spin influences the temporal and spatial patterns of outgassing from the nucleus (through diurnal and seasonal effects) and is in turn influenced by outgassing-driven torques. The current challenge to cometary astronomers is to quantify the interactions between the spin, the outgassing, and the resultant torques on the nucleus, and to understand the role of rotation in determining the basic physical properties of the nucleus.

In a Nutshell
This is an invited review of the subject presented at the Hale-Bopp Conference in Tenerife, Spain, February 1998.

Fundamental timescales relevant to the rotation of the cometary nucleus, plotted as a function of the nucleus radius. Many basic properties of the cometary nucleus may be understood in terms of the timescales plotted in this graph. A one page summary is out of the question but the review itself (Postscript) is only 20 pages, so take a look!

Last updated March 2000

Kuiper Belt