The fragmentation of cometary nuclei is a frequent phenomenon, but the dynamics of the fragments is not yet well understood. During the close approach of comet C/1996 B2 Hyakutake to the Earth (0.1 AU) on late March 1996, images were taken with the 1 meter telescope of Pic du Midi observatory. Bright condensations were observed near the nucleus on images taken between March, 22,1996 and March, 31, 1996. It was suggested that these features were mini-comæ surrounding fragments receding from the nucleus (Lecacheux et al., 1996). A model was developped for the motion of cometary fragments in the orbital plane of the comet, and the simulations were compared with the observations (Desvoivres et al, 1998).
In the model, we consider that the nucleus of the comet and a fragment are under the influence of the gravity of the Sun, of their mutual gravity, and of non-gravitational forces (NGF) due the loss of mass induced by solar heating. From an estimation of those NGF, we compute numerically the trajectories of the fragment and of the nucleus with respect to their common center of mass (CoM). Then, the motion of the center of mass is studied in an heliocentric reference frame using the theory of perturbed keplerian motion.