[meteorite-list] Comet ISON Brings Holiday Fireworks

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2013 10:50:02 -0700 (PDT)
Message-ID: <201307081750.r68Ho20q006679_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


News Release Number: STScI-2013-24
July 2, 2013

Comet ISON Brings Holiday Fireworks


This July 4th the solar system is showing off some fireworks of its own.

Superficially resembling a skyrocket, Comet ISON is hurtling toward the
Sun at a whopping 48,000 miles per hour.

Its swift motion is captured in this time-lapse movie made from a sequence
of pictures taken May 8, 2013, by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. At the
time the images were taken, the comet was 403 million miles from Earth,
between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

The movie shows a sequence of Hubble observations taken over a 43-minute
span, compressed into just five seconds. The comet travels 34,000 miles
in this brief video, or 7 percent of the distance between Earth and the
Moon. The deep-space visitor streaks silently against the background stars.

Unlike a firework, the comet is not combusting, but in fact is pretty
cold. Its skyrocket-looking tail is really a streamer of gas and dust
bleeding off the icy nucleus, which is surrounded by a bright, star-like-looking
coma. The pressure of the solar wind sweeps the material into a tail,
like a breeze blowing a windsock.

As the comet warms while it moves closer to the Sun, its rate of sublimation
will increase. The comet will get brighter and the tail will grow longer.
The comet is predicted to reach naked-eye visibility in November.

The comet is named after the organization that discovered it, the Russia-based
International Scientific Optical Network.

This false-color, visible-light image was taken with Hubble's Wide Field
Camera 3.

Object Name: Comet ISON

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Received on Mon 08 Jul 2013 01:50:02 PM PDT

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