Comet explosion

Comet explosion

Fig. 14.22 . Comet Holmes has exploded just twice in 118 years, in November 1892 and October 2007, while approaching the asteroid belt and moving from the vicinity of Jupiter toward the Sun. This infrared image was obtained from the Spitzer Space Telescope in March 2008; five months after the comet suddenly erupted and brightened a million fold overnight. The infrared picture (left) reveals dust particles that make up the outer shell, which envelops solid particles (yellow) blown from the exploding comet and the comet nucleus (white center). The contrast-enhanced image (right) shows the outer shell and filaments or streamers of dust. (Courtesy of NSA/JPL-Caltech.)

Copyright 2010, Professor Kenneth R. Lang, Tufts University