facebook
twitter
rss
account
search
search
 

Comet approaching sun sprouts 'wings' in new images

Nov. 20, 2013 at 6:30 PM   |   Comments

MUNICH, Germany, Nov. 20 (UPI) -- A comet approaching the sun has sprouted "wings," a U-shaped trail of gases that may be coming from a fragment breaking off the comet, German astronomers say.

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research and the Wendelstein Observatory of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University reported Wednesday the discovery of the new features in images of Comet ISON taken at the end of last week.

The images taken Nov. 14-15 show two striking features within the comet's atmosphere that protrude from the nucleus in a wing-like fashion, they said.

"Features like these typically occur after individual fragments break off the nucleus," Hermann Bohnhardt from the Max Planck Institute said.

Where the emissions from the comet and its fragments meet, the scientists said, a kind of boundary layer is formed that often takes a wing-like form as seen from Earth.

How the comet will develop in the next weeks is still unclear, they said; on Nov. 28 it will fly by the sun at a distance of only 1.1 million miles.

"However, according to past experience, comets that have once lost a fragment tend to do this again," Bohnhardt said.

Topics: Max Planck
© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Most Popular
1
NASA satellite shows scope of Aral Sea disaster NASA satellite shows scope of Aral Sea disaster
2
600-year-old canoe discovered in New Zealand 600-year-old canoe discovered in New Zealand
3
Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus Apple releases fix for 'Shellshock' virus
4
Social network Ello getting thousands of requests per hour Social network Ello getting thousands of requests per hour
5
Antarctic ice loss responsible for measurable shift in gravity Antarctic ice loss responsible for measurable shift in gravity
Trending News
x
Feedback