August 11, 2000 - Fragments of Comet LINEAR
Fragments of Comet LINEAR
(JHU) et al.,
European Southern Observatory
you call a
bunch of comet
fragments anyway ... a flock, a covey, a swarm?
The question is definitely relevant to
comet LINEAR (C/1999 S4 LINEAR)
whose nucleus apparently fragmented
late last month
first trip through
the inner solar system.
This computer enhanced composite
image shows faint stars
as trails and
the remnants of LINEAR's nucleus as a flock of "mini-comets" embedded
in a cloud of gas and dust.
It was recorded by astronomers using the European Southern
Observatory's Antu telescope
about a day after the Hubble Space
Telescope (HST) was also able to image the
covey of condensations.
A comparison of the HST and the subsequent Antu images reveals that the
swarm of cometary debris has changed markedly in 24 hours demonstrating
the very dynamic behavior of comet LINEAR's remains.
watching as comet LINEAR's fragments
continue to lose dust and gas and fade from view.
As a result, LINEAR's legacy may well be insight into the
make-up of a
primordial piece of
our solar system.
If pictures of comet LINEAR have piqued your curiosity about
fragments of a comet, why not watch the
Perseid meteor shower this weekend?