Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Maria Womack, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Andreas Muller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Myung Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Matthew Pasek, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Zhimin Shi, Ph.D.


Comets, Rotational spectroscopy, Radio astronomy


Comets are fascinating minor solar system bodies. They contain some of the most pristine and unprocessed material found in the solar system. As a comet approaches the Sun it displays the characteristic cometary coma and tail. This is due to the release of volatile species through a variety of processes. In the present work I studied the carbon monoxide emission of three very unique comets; 174P/Echeclus, 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann and C/2016 R2 (PanSTARRS) with different radio telescopes at millimeter wavelengths. After molecular hydrogen, carbon monoxide is the second most abundant molecule in the universe, and is also the most volatile of the species found in most comets. The study of its release mechanisms, content and distribution rwithin the coma of a comet can constrain current models of cometary and solar system formation. Some of the most relevant results of this work include: Detection of carbon monoxide in comet/Centaur 174P/Echeclus -only the third Centaur in which CO has been detected-, evidence for non-correlation between the CO emission and dust production in comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann, and the first detection of 13CO in a comet.