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: NASA craft set to beam home close-ups of Pluto

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Getting to know Rosetta's comet

Jan 23, 2015

Rosetta is revealing its host comet as having a remarkable array of surface features and with many processes contributing to its activity, painting a complex picture of its evolution.

Telescope to seek dust where other Earths may lie

Jan 22, 2015

The NASA-funded Large Binocular Telescope Interferometer, or LBTI, has completed its first study of dust in the "habitable zone" around a star, opening a new door to finding planets like Earth. Dust is a ...

Rosetta data reveals more surprises about comet 67P

Jan 22, 2015

As the Rosetta spacecraft orbits comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, an international team of scientists have discovered that the comet's atmosphere, or coma, is much less homogenous than expected and comet ...

Rosetta data give closest-ever look at a comet

Jan 22, 2015

On Nov. 12, 2014, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission made history when its Philae lander touched down on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. While this exciting technical achievement ...

What other worlds have we landed on?

Jan 14, 2015

Think of all the different horizons humans have viewed on other worlds. The dust-filled skies of Mars. The Moon's inky darkness. Titan's orange haze. These are just a small subset of the worlds that humans ...

Recommended for you

NASA craft set to beam home close-ups of Pluto

12 hours ago

Nine years after leaving Earth, the New Horizons spacecraft is at last drawing close to Pluto and on Sunday was expected to start shooting photographs of the dwarf planet.

Elon Musk's SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

22 hours ago

A spacecraft company run by billionaire Elon Musk has dropped a lawsuit alleging the U.S. Air Force improperly awarded a contract to launch military satellites to a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed ...

NASA spacecraft almost to Pluto: Smile for the camera!

Jan 23, 2015

It's showtime for Pluto. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has traveled 3 billion miles and is nearing the end of its nine-year journey to Pluto. Sunday, it begins photographing the mysterious, unexplored, icy ...

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.