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Hergenrother comet calves an iceberg on return to the deeps

26 Oct 2012, 19:27 UTC
Hergenrother comet calves an iceberg on return to the deeps Remanzacco Observatory
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Astronomers have been watching Comet 168P/Hergenrother closely the past couple months since it’s been in outburst and much brighter than expected. There have also been recent reports of fragmentation of the comet’s nucleus. Heat from the sun causes comet ices … Continue reading →

Comet Hergenrother photographed last night with the 79-inch telescope by a team of amateur astronomers. The fuzzy fragment is snugged right up against the icy-dusty core of the comet called the nucleus. A coma of dust and gases surrounds the nucleus. Credit: Remanzacco Observatory
Astronomers have been watching Comet 168P/Hergenrother closely the past couple months since it’s been in outburst and much brighter than expected. There have also been recent reports of fragmentation of the comet’s nucleus.
Heat from the sun causes comet ices to vaporize; the expanding gas can stress a comet’s fragile, icy nucleus, riddling its outer crust with fissures. As fresh ice is exposed, more gas and dust jet outward from the nucleus to swell the comet’s coma or temporary atmosphere. It all adds up to a surge in brightness that can make an obscure comet suddenly bright enough to see in even a small telescope.
4x closeup of the comet’s nucleus shows ...

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