Comet McNaught - A First Light Present for STEREO

Jan 19, 2007
Comet McNaught - A First Light Present for STEREO
This image of Comet McNaught comes from the Heliospheric Imager on one of the STEREO spacecraft, taken Jan. 11, 2007. To the right is the comet nucleus, so bright it saturates the detector creating a bright vertical band in the image. The comet's dynamic tails extend up and to the left. Credit: NASA

This image of Comet McNaught comes from the Heliospheric Imager on one of the STEREO spacecraft, taken Jan. 11, 2007. To the right is the comet nucleus, so bright it saturates the detector creating a bright vertical band in the image. The comet's dynamic tails extend up and to the left.

The lowest of the tails is the ion tail, which points along the direction of the solar wind. Above that is the comet's dust tail pushed out by radiation pressure from the sun. The tail is highly structured, probably the result of dynamic activity in the comet itself.

Although the two STEREO observatories have been turning on their instruments since mid-December, the Heliospheric Imagers on this spacecraft turned on for the first time on Jan. 11 - just in time to see the spectacular Comet McNaught.

The Heliospheric Imagers are designed to observe the space between the Sun and the Earth in order to watch solar storms as they head our way. But here the Heliospheric Imagers are also able to observe Comet McNaught as it heads towards the sun.

STEREO's SECCHI/HI instrument was built by a consortium led by the Naval Research Laboratory (USA), and includes the University of Birmingham (UK), Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (UK) and Centre Spatiale de Liege (Belgium). Image credit: NASA

Source: NASA, by Rani Gran

Explore further: New mass map of a distant galaxy cluster is the most precise yet

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Fukushima study: Think about unthinkable disasters

1 hour ago

(AP)—A U.S. science advisory report says a key lesson from Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident is that the nation's nuclear industry needs to focus more on the highly unlikely but super-serious worst case scenarios.

FX says overnight ratings becoming meaningless

1 hour ago

(AP)—It's a rite nearly as old as television: the morning after a new show premieres, network executives wait impatiently for the Nielsen company's estimate of how many people watched, and rush to report ...

Recommended for you

Satellite galaxies put astronomers in a spin

3 hours ago

An international team of researchers, led by astronomers at the Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg (CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), has studied 380 galaxies and shown that their small satellite galaxies almost always ...

Video: The diversity of habitable zones and the planets

3 hours ago

The field of exoplanets has rapidly expanded from the exclusivity of exoplanet detection to include exoplanet characterization. A key step towards this characterization is the determination of which planets occupy the Habitable ...

Ultra-deep astrophoto of the Antenna Galaxies

3 hours ago

You might think the image above of the famous Antenna Galaxies was taken by a large ground-based or even a space telescope. Think again. Amateur astronomer Rolf Wahl Olsen from New Zealand compiled a total ...

The most precise measurement of an alien world's size

5 hours ago

Thanks to NASA's Kepler and Spitzer Space Telescopes, scientists have made the most precise measurement ever of the radius of a planet outside our solar system. The size of the exoplanet, dubbed Kepler-93b, ...

Lives and deaths of sibling stars

Jul 23, 2014

This beautiful star cluster, NGC 3293, is found 8000 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Carina (The Keel). This cluster was first spotted by the French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille in ...

User comments : 0