Hubble Captures Comet ISON


Credit: NASA, ESA, J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute), and the Hubble Comet ISON Imaging Science Team

Credit: NASA, ESA, J.-Y. Li (Planetary Science Institute), and the Hubble Comet ISON Imaging Science Team

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image of Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) was photographed on April 10, when the comet was slightly closer than Jupiter’s orbit at a distance of 386 million miles from the Sun (394 million miles from Earth).

Even at that great distance the comet is already active as sunlight warms the surface and causes frozen volatiles to sublimate. A detailed analysis of the dust coma surrounding the solid, icy nucleus reveals a strong jet blasting dust particles off the sunward-facing side of the comet’s nucleus.

Preliminary measurements from the Hubble images suggest that the nucleus of ISON is no larger than three or four miles across. This is remarkably small considering the high level of activity observed in the comet so far, said researchers. Astronomers are using these images to measure the activity level of this comet and constrain the size of the nucleus, in order to predict the comet’s activity when it skims 700,000 miles above the Sun’s roiling surface on November 28.

Full Story: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2013/14/image/a/
Also: http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/news/hubble-brings-faraway-comet-view

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  1. phoebe
    April 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm

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