Friday, October 26, 2007

Big Bang!

Comet 17P/Holmes is in outburst! Two days ago this periodic comet some 2.4 AU away from the Sun and 1.6 AU from Earth, brightened unexpectedly by a MILLION fold from 16th magnitude to nearly 2.5! You can read more about it here.

The above image was obtained through the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory 2.3 meter telescope atop Kitt Peak. The large round outer coma is about 2 arcminutes in diameter as viewed from Earth - or nearly 87,000 miles across - the size of the planet Jupiter! Given that this shell of dust was generated two days ago (~50 hours) that works out to be a expansion rate of almost 870 miles per hour! Quite a bang!

Credit: University of Arizona - Paul Smith, Dennis Means, Dave Harvey.

1 comment:

Tuguldur said...

a nice image Dave! I had also a nice one through 21" and my Xti/its on my blog/; the adapter that you had showed me fits perfectly!

Initially I had expected just too much from a 21" scope, but now I am satisfies looking the image you took through 2.5meter, but almost the same amount of detail.

I am planning to image it throughout couple of weeks, and subtract the frames so I can observe/probably calculate/ the tail expansion.

Also planning to do a differential photometry on the comet.

Thanks again, for providing that adapter for me! :)