Ensemble properties of comets in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

Michael Solontoi, Željko Ivezić, Mario Jurić, Andrew C. Becker, Lynne Jones, Andrew A. West, Steve Kent, Robert H. Lupton, Mark Claire, Gillian R. Knapp, Tom Quinn, James E. Gunn, Donald P. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (SciVal)


We present the ensemble properties of 31 comets (27 resolved and 4 unresolved) observed by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). This sample of comets represents about 1 comet per 10million SDSS photometric objects. Five-band (u,g,r,i,z) photometry is used to determine the comets' colors, sizes, surface brightness profiles, and rates of dust production in terms of the Afρ formalism. We find that the cumulative luminosity function for the Jupiter Family Comets in our sample is well fit by a power law of the form N(<H)∝10 (0.49±0.05)H for H<18, with evidence of a much shallower fit N(<H)∝10 (0.19±0.03)H for the faint (14.5<H<18) comets. The resolved comets show an extremely narrow distribution of colors (0.57±0.05 in g-r for example), which are statistically indistinguishable from that of the Jupiter Trojans. Further, there is no evidence of correlation between color and physical, dynamical, or observational parameters for the observed comets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-584
Number of pages14
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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