Comet Lovejoy’s Spectacular 5 Million Kilometer Long Tail

Comet Lovejoy’s Tail
Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)

lovejoyJan13RBA1024

Sweeping north in planet Earth’s sky, Comet Lovejoy’s greenish coma and blue tinted ion tail stretched across this field of stars in the constellation Taurus on January 13. The inset at the upper left shows the 1/2 degree angular size of the full moon for scale. So Lovejoy’s coma appears only a little smaller (but much fainter) than a full moon on the sky, and its tail is visible for over 4 degrees across the frame. That corresponds to over 5 million kilometers at the comet’s estimated distance of 75 million kilometers from Earth. Blown by the solar wind, the comet’s tenuous, structured ion tail streams away from the Sun, growing as this Comet Lovejoy heads toward perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun, on January 30. While diatomic carbon (C2) gas fluorescing in sunlight produces the coma’s green color, the fainter bluish tail is tinted by emission from ionized carbon monoxide (CO+).

About Stan Flouride

THIS BLOG IS ALWAYS AD-FREE I make stuff and do things.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s