FSI Research Scientist, Gal Sarid, Awarded NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Grant
Gal Sarid, Research Scientist at FSI, is a Co-Investigator on a recently-awarded NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Grant. The funded study (“Carbon monoxide in comets”) is lead by University of South Florida’s research professor Maria Womack and will run for 3 years, supporting a PhD thesis on the subject and collaborative work on observation, analysis and modeling.
This is a combined project that uses measurements from millimeter-wavelength cometary spectra to constrain two comet models: one of the physics of
comae and another of the chemical composition of distant comet nuclei. The outcomes of this project are applicable to the larger problem of modeling the behavior of CO (and other highly-volatile chemical species) in cold outer solar system objects. Carbon monoxide is of special interest because it is usually a major contributor to the activity of comets beyond 3 AU. The variation in abundance and activity patterns may be an important clue to either differences in the comet’s formation region or its history. This is ultimately needed for understanding solar system formation and evolution.