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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA’s Exoplanet-Hunting Mission Catches a Natural Comet Outburst in Unprecedented Detail

3 Dec 2019, 20:00 UTC
NASA’s Exoplanet-Hunting Mission Catches a Natural Comet Outburst in Unprecedented Detail NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Using data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), astronomers at the University of Maryland (UMD), in College Park, Maryland, have captured a clear start-to-finish image sequence of an explosive emission of dust, ice and gases during the close approach of comet 46P/Wirtanen in late 2018. This is the most complete and detailed observation to date of the formation and dissipation of a naturally-occurring comet outburst. The team members reported their results in the November 22 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

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