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Journal Articles Nature Year : 2015

Two independent and primitive envelopes of the bilobate nucleus of comet 67P

1 CISAS - Centro di Ateneo di Studi e Attività Spaziali “Giuseppe Colombo”
2 Dipartimento di Geoscienze [Padova]
3 IFN - CNR Institute for Photonics and Nanotechnologies
4 Dipartimento di Fisica e Astronomia "Galileo Galilei"
5 OAPD - INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova
6 LAM - Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Marseille
7 DEI - Department of Information Engineering [Padova]
8 CAPS - Centre for Astrophysics and Planetary Science [Canterbury]
9 Physikalisches Institut [Bern]
10 DLR Institute of Planetary Research
11 MPS - Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung = Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research
12 CAB - Centro de Astrobiologia [Madrid]
13 ISSI - International Space Science Institute [Bern]
14 ESTEC - European Space Research and Technology Centre
15 CBK - Space Research Centre of Polish Academy of Sciences
16 Department of Physics and Astronomy [Uppsala]
17 IGEP - Institut für Geophysik und Extraterrestrische Physik [Braunschweig]
18 Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen
19 Department of Astronomy [College Park]
20 LESIA - Laboratoire d'études spatiales et d'instrumentation en astrophysique
22 RSSD - Research and Scientific Support Department, ESTEC
23 Department of Industrial Engineering [Padova]
24 UNITN - Università degli Studi di Trento = University of Trento
25 OAT - INAF - Osservatorio Astronomico di Trieste
26 PSI - Planetary Science Institute [Tucson]
27 IAA - Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía
28 IANCU - Institute of Astronomy [Taiwan]
29 Operations Department (ESAC)
30 Institut für Datentechnik und Kommunikationsnetze
Lorenza Giacomini
Laurent Jorda
Jean-Loup Bertaux
  • Function : Author
  • PersonId : 914210
Pedro J. Gutiérrez
  • Function : Author
  • PersonId : 880386
Wing-Huen Ip
Michael Küppers
Nicolas Thomas


The factors shaping cometary nuclei are still largely unknown, but could be the result of concurrent effects of evolutionary and primordial processes. The peculiar bilobed shape of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko may be the result of the fusion of two objects that were once separate or the result of a localized excavation by outgassing at the interface between the two lobes. Here we report that the comet's major lobe is enveloped by a nearly continuous set of strata, up to 650 metres thick, which are independent of an analogous stratified envelope on the minor lobe. Gravity vectors computed for the two lobes separately are closer to perpendicular to the strata than those calculated for the entire nucleus and adjacent to the neck separating the two lobes. Therefore comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is an accreted body of two distinct objects with `onion-like' stratification, which formed before they merged. We conclude that gentle, low-velocity collisions occurred between two fully formed kilometre-sized cometesimals in the early stages of the Solar System. The notable structural similarities between the two lobes of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko indicate that the early-forming cometesimals experienced similar primordial stratified accretion, even though they formed independently.
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Dates and versions

insu-01328952 , version 1 (08-06-2016)



Matteo Massironi, Emanuele Simioni, Francesco Marzari, Gabriele Cremonese, Lorenza Giacomini, et al.. Two independent and primitive envelopes of the bilobate nucleus of comet 67P. Nature, 2015, 526, pp.402 - 405. ⟨10.1038/nature15511⟩. ⟨insu-01328952⟩
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