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HCN PRODUCTION FROM COMET HALLEY

Abstract
The HCN J = 1-0 rotational transition at 3.4 mm wavelength has been detected and has been monitored in comet P/Halley during a total of 56 individual observing sessions between November 18, 1985 and May 11, 1986. The HCN spectra show significant daily variations in total intensity, but the average HCN production rate is well correlated with the visual magnitude of the comet over the range of heliocentric distance observed (between 0.59 and 1.8). Observations of the ratios of the F = 2-1 and F = 1-1 hyperfine components also exhibit significant daily variations but are, in the mean, consistent with the 5:3 ratio expected from the statistical weights of the hyperfine levels. The outflow velocity of the coma, deduced from the HCN linewidths, is 0.87 + or - 0.12 km/s, which is consistent with recent theoretical estimates as well as the measurements of the Giotto spacecraft.
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1986
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