Farthest-Ever Incoming Comet Spotted by Hubble

Farthest-Ever Incoming Comet Spotted by Hubble

Distant comet - 1.5 billion miles from the Sun Credit: D. Jewitt/NASA/ESA/UCLA
Distant comet – 1.5 billion miles from the Sun Credit: D. Jewitt/NASA/ESA/UCLA

Hubble Space Telescope spotted the farthest-ever incoming active comet

Comet C/2017 K2 (K2) was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope as the farthest active comet ever spotted, heading toward the Sun.

K2 came from a distance of 1.5 billion miles away from the Sun, beyond Saturn’s orbit and as it approaches to our star, the temperatures are rising very fast. Its nucleus seems to be just 12 miles across and the coma stretches 10 times Earth’s diameter.

“We think the comet has been continuously active for at least four years. As it approaches the sun, it’s getting warmer and warmer, and the activity is ramping up,” said David Jewitt, lead author on the study and a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles

Comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), also known as K2, on its first journey into the Solar System. The comet was observed halfway between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus (Pluto is the furthest orbit visible in the image). Credit: A. Field/NASA/ESA/STScl/Space.com
Comet C/2017 K2 (PANSTARRS), also known as K2, on its first journey into the Solar System. The comet was observed halfway between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus (Pluto is the furthest orbit visible in the image). Credit: A. Field/NASA/ESA/STScl/Space.com

David Jewitt also said the most of comets were seen for the first time much closer to the Sun, near Jupiter’s orbit, but K2 it’s primitive because its coma is not visible yet because it is too far from the Sun for that process to have begun.

It is believed that comet’s halo comes from substances such as oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

 

source: Space.com

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