Astronomy Picture of the Day



Comet Holmes from the Hubble Space Telescope

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#104849 by @ 29.11.2007 00:00 - nach oben -
Comet Holmes from the Hubble Space Telescope


Explanation:
Why did Comet Holmes brighten?

The unexpectedly bright
Comet 17P/Holmes
continues to grace northern skies as a
naked-eye
addition
to the constellation Perseus.

Any northern
sky enthusiast with a
dark sky, a
bright curiosity, and a
recent sky map
should still be able to
locate the comet in a few minutes.

What is seen, however, is primarily the sun-light reflecting dust
coma.

It surrounds an iceberg nucleus
too small and too faint to discern.

Clues to the nearly
million-fold brightness increase
are therefore being sought in dramatic images of the
enigmatic comet's central
regions taken earlier this month by the
Hubble Space
Telescope
.

One such Hubble image,
shown above, indicates a still unresolved dense
central dust cloud near the
nucleus,
surrounded by a more complex, anisotropic coma.

The Hubble images do not show any
obvious fragmentation
of the nucleus, however, as was seen last year in
Comet Schwassman-Wachmann 3.

Observers around and above the world will continue to study this
unusual addition to the night sky.




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