Dust and gas from Comet 9P/Tempel 1 seen by ESA OGS

Jul 05, 2005
Dust and gas from Comet 9P/Tempel 1 seen by ESA OGS

Dust and gas are seen in these images of Comet 9P/Tempel 1, as observed with the 1-metre ESA Optical Ground Station (OGS) telescope, located at the Observatorio del Teide on Tenerife, Canary Islands.

Image: Dust from Comet 9P/Tempel 1 seen with the ESA OGS (red filter)

Two different filters have been used in different visible light observations to study different aspects of the comet's nature. Red 'broadband' filters allowed the detection of dust, while blue 'narrowband' filters, filtering only carbon gaseous compounds, allow the observations to concentrate mainly on the gas emissions of the comet.

The first set of images (above) here were taken with a broadband red filter, four days before and about 15 hours after the impact respectively. The images were exposed for 10 minutes and show the dust coma of the comet. The dust brightness has increased by 50 percent.

A strong jet has recently appeared as a direct result of the impact, pointing north-north-east. The overall coma is very asymmetric in appearance. All structures must have been created by the outburst triggered by the impact.

Coma gas from Comet 9P/Tempel 1 seen with the ESA OGS telescope (narrowband filter)


Image above: Coma gas from Comet 9P/Tempel 1 seen with the ESA OGS telescope (narrowband filter)

The second set of images of Tempel 1 from the OGS telescope use a narrowband filter (C2 emission band). They show the coma gas mixed with smaller-sized dust particles than observed in the broadband red filtered image.

The observations were taken two days before and about 16 hours after the impact respectively. Also here the coma brightness has increased by 50 percent. Again the same strong jet is visible.

Dust from Comet 9P/Tempel 1 seen with ESA OGS (blue/red filters)


Image above: Dust from Comet 9P/Tempel 1 seen with ESA OGS (blue/red filters)

In the third set of images, Tempel 1 is seen about 16 hours after the impact. The two images show the refection of blue (BC filter) and red (RC filter) light from the dust cloud surrounding the comet nucleus.

These reflections show different dust particle sizes, with blue particles being smaller than red particles. It is clear that the jet structure of the smaller dust particles points towards the north (BC image), whereas the jet composed of larger dust particles (RC image) is rotated by about 45 degrees towards the north-east.

This means that the direction in which the dust particles were ejected from the comet nucleus after impact seems to depend on the particle size.

These images introduce ESA’s OGS telescope to the network of Earth-based observatories already taking part in the one of world’s largest astronomical observation campaigns - looking at results of the 4 July comet impact event.

Source: ESA

Explore further: Italy's first female astronaut heads to ISS in Russian craft

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rosetta continues into its full science phase

Nov 20, 2014

With the Philae lander's mission complete, Rosetta will now continue its own extraordinary exploration, orbiting Comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko during the coming year as the enigmatic body arcs ever closer ...

Rosetta: What happens next?

Nov 14, 2014

A University of Leicester planetary scientist has hailed the European Space Agency's mission to land a probe on a fast-moving comet as a success despite issues with the landing.

Three touchdowns for Rosetta's lander

Nov 14, 2014

(Phys.org) —After achieving touchdown on a comet for the first time in history, scientists and engineers are busy analysing this new world and the nature of the landing. 

A close-up with a comet

Nov 11, 2014

Even as Tom Economou approached retirement age in 1994, he began planning an instrument for the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to a comet. He still remembers the reaction of Riccardo Levi-Setti, ...

Tail discovered on long-known asteroid

Nov 11, 2014

A two-person team of Carnegie's Scott Sheppard and Chadwick Trujillo of the Gemini Observatory has discovered a new active asteroid, called 62412, in the Solar System's main asteroid belt between Mars and ...

Recommended for you

Image: Hubble captures the Egg Nebula

36 minutes ago

This colourful image shows a cosmic lighthouse known as the Egg Nebula, which lies around 3000 light-years from Earth. The image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, has captured a brief but dramatic ...

Earth's orbit around the sun

46 minutes ago

Ever since the 16th century when Nicolaus Copernicus demonstrated that the Earth revolved around in the Sun, scientists have worked tirelessly to understand the relationship in mathematical terms. If this ...

CubeSat instruments to demonstrate NASA firsts

2 hours ago

The Dellingr six-unit CubeSat, which is taking its developers just one year to design, build and integrate, won't be the only potentially groundbreaking capability for NASA. Its heliophysics payloads also ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.