Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (not really)

NOTE: Comets are always breaking up…they’re just more noticeable in the night sky!

Astronomy and Law

For the past several weeks, the Hergenrother comet has been breaking up during its most recent lap around the Sun.  Amateur and professional astronomers have been following the comet as it has been generating a series of impressive outbursts of cometary-dust material.

(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/NOAO/Gemini)

“Comet Hergenrother is splitting apart,” said Rachel Stevenson from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Using the National Optical Astronomy Observatory’s Gemini North Telescope on top of Mauna Kea, Hawaii, we have resolved that the nucleus of the comet has separated into at least four distinct pieces resulting in a large increase in dust material in its coma.”

Because of this the comet’s coma (he nebulous envelope around the nucleus of a comet) has brightened considerably.

If you want to see or photograph the breakup of comet Hergenrother, it can be seen in area the constellations of Andromeda and Lacerta.


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