Comet Linear

These three photographs taken with the Hubble Space Telescope chronicle a violent outburst in the life of comet LINEAR, also known as C/1999 S4. The orbiting observatory's Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph tracked the streaking comet for two days, July 5 to 7, capturing a dramatic leap in its brightness [left image]; followed by seeing a wave of newly created dust from the outburst flowing into the coma, a shell of dust surrounding the core [middle image]; and culminating in the discovery of a castoff chunk of material from the nucleus sailing along its tail [the bright dot trailing behind the comet in the picture at right]. The white region represents the brightest part of the coma. The nucleus cannot be seen in these images because it is about a mile or so across, which is too small for the Hubble telescope to see.


NASA/ESA, H. Weaver and P. Feldman (Johns Hopkins University), M. A'Hearn (University of Maryland), C. Arpigny (Liège University), M. Combi (University of Michigan), M. Festou (Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées), and G.-P. Tozzi (Arcetri Observatory)

About the Image

NASA press release
NASA caption
Release date:28 July 2000, 07:00
Size:3000 x 2400 px

About the Object

Name:Comet Linear
Type:Solar System : Interplanetary Body : Comet
Category:Solar System

Image Formats

Large JPEG
512.4 KB
Screensize JPEG
100.8 KB

Colours & filters

550 nm Hubble Space Telescope

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