Thursday, April 11, 2024

The Changing Ion Tail of Comet Pons-Brooks

The Changing Ion Tail of Comet Pons-Brooks

How does a comet tail change? It depends on the comet. The ion tail of Comet 12P/Pons–Brooks has been changing markedly, as detailed in the featured image sequenced over nine days from March 6 to 14, 2024 (top to bottom). On particular days, the comet's ion tail was relatively long and complex, but not every day. Reasons for tail changes include the rate of ejection of material from the comet's nucleus, the strength and complexity of the passing solar wind, and the rotation rate of the comet. Over the course of a week, apparent changes even include a change of perspective from the Earth. In general, a comet's ion tail will point away from the Sun, as gas expelled is pushed out by the Sun's wind. 

12P/Pons–Brooks is a periodic comet with an orbital period of 71 years. It fits the classical definition of a Halley-type comet with an orbital period between 20 and 200 years. It is also one of the brightest known periodic comets, reaching an absolute visual magnitude ~5 in its approach to perihelion.

Comet Pons-Brooks was discovered at Marseilles Observatory in July 1812 by Jean-Louis Pons.

The greenish coma of this comet has become relatively easy to observe in small telescopes.

Image Credit & Copyright: Shengyu Li & Shaining

Image Dates: March 6-14, 2024

Release Date: April 8, 2024

#NASA #Space #Astronomy #Science #Sun #Earth #Comets #Comet #Comet12PPonsBrooks #Perihelion #Lacerta #Constellation #SolarSystem #Astrophotography #ShengyuLi #Astrophotographer #CitizenScience #STEM #Education #APoD

No comments:

Post a Comment