Comets in full sky L-alpha maps of the SWAN instrument - I. Survey from 1996 to 1998

JTT Makinen*, JL Bertaux, TI Pulkkinen, W Schmidt, Erkki Kyrölä, T Summanen, E Quemerais, R Lallement

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


The SWAN instrument onboard the SOHO spacecraft is a Lyman cu scanning photometer cabable of mapping the whole sky with 1 degrees resolution. Since January 1995 the instrument has produced on average three full sky maps a week with the principal scientific objective of observing the distribution of heliospheric neutral hydrogen. In addition, these systematic observations are a valuable source for studying comets brighter than a visual magnitude of 7-11 the observing limit depending on the abundance ratios of produced radicals and the location of the comet relative to the galactic plane. When the data before the temporary loss of control of SOHO st the end of June 1998 were processed, altogether 18 comets were positively identified, of which one is a new discovery and another 5 can be detected on SWAN images before their actual discovery date. This demonstrates the feasibility of SWAN as an instrument for cometary surveys. The observations are used to estimate the water production rates of the detected comets near their perihelion passages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)292-297
Number of pages6
JournalAstronomy and Astrophysics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2001
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • data analysis
  • surveys
  • comets
  • ultraviolet : solar system
  • SOHO

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