Comets, such as C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp), are important to studies of the origins of the solar system because they are believed to be frozen reservoirs of the most primitive pre-solar dust grains and ices. Here, we report 1.2-18.5 μm infrared (IR) spectrophotometric and polarimetric observations of comet Hale-Bopp. Our measurements of the spectral energy distribution (SED) and IR polarization near perhelion passage suggest that emission from the coma was dominated by scattering and thermal emission from sub-micron sized dust grains. Hale-Bopp's surprising brightness may have been largely a result of the properties of its coma grains rather than the size of its nucleus. The thermal emission continuum from the grains had a superheat of S = T(color)/T(BB) ≥ 1.7, the peak of the 10 μm silicate emission feature was 1.7 mags above the carbon grain continuum, and the albedo (reflectivity) of the grains was ≥ 0.4 at a scattering angles, θ ≥ 135°.
- Infrared spectra