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  1. Abstract

    Gas-phase molecules in cometary atmospheres (comae) originate primarily from (1) outgassing by the nucleus, (2) sublimation of icy grains in the near-nucleus coma, and (3) coma (photo)chemical processes. However, the majority of cometary gases observed at radio wavelengths have yet to be mapped, so their production/release mechanisms remain uncertain. Here we present observations of six molecular species toward comet 46P/Wirtanen, obtained using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array during the comet’s unusually close (∼0.1 au) approach to Earth in 2018 December. Interferometric maps of HCN, CH3OH, CH3CN, H2CO, CS, and HNC were obtained at an unprecedented sky-projected spatial resolution of up to 25 km, enabling the nucleus and coma sources of these molecules to be accurately quantified. The HCN, CH3OH, and CH3CN spatial distributions are consistent with production by direct outgassing from (or very close to) the nucleus, with a significant proportion of the observed CH3OH originating from sublimation of icy grains in the near-nucleus coma (at a scale lengthLp= 36 ± 7 km). On the other hand, H2CO, CS, and HNC originate primarily from distributed coma sources (withLpvalues in the range 550–16,000 km), the identities of which remain to be established. The HCN, CH3OH, and HNC abundances in 46Pmore »are consistent with the average values previously observed in comets, whereas the H2CO, CH3CN, and CS abundances are relatively low.

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    The Great Oxidation Event was a period during which Earth’s atmospheric oxygen (O2) concentrations increased from ∼10−5 times its present atmospheric level (PAL) to near modern levels, marking the start of the Proterozoic geological eon 2.4 billion years ago. Using WACCM6, an Earth System Model, we simulate the atmosphere of Earth-analogue exoplanets with O2 mixing ratios between 0.1 and 150 per cent PAL. Using these simulations, we calculate the reflection spectra over multiple orbits using the Planetary Spectrum Generator. We highlight how observer angle, albedo, chemistry, and clouds affect the simulated observations. We show that inter-annual climate variations, as well short-term variations due to clouds, can be observed in our simulated atmospheres with a telescope concept such as LUVOIR or HabEx. Annual variability and seasonal variability can change the planet’s reflected flux (including the reflected flux of key spectral features such as O2 and H2O) by up to factors of 5 and 20, respectively, for the same orbital phase. This variability is best observed with a high-throughput coronagraph. For example, HabEx (4 m) with a starshade performs up to a factor of two times better than a LUVOIR B (6 m) style telescope. The variability and signal-to-noise ratio of some spectral features dependsmore »non-linearly on atmospheric O2 concentration. This is caused by temperature and chemical column depth variations, as well as generally increased liquid and ice cloud content for atmospheres with O2 concentrations of <1 per cent PAL.

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