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Comet Outbursts

5 December 2019

Sent in by William – https://phys.org/news/2019-12-nasa-exoplanet-hunting-mission-natural-com… … NASAs exoplanet hunting mission has caught images of a comet outburst in unprecedented detail – an explosive emission of dust, ices, and gases. It caught on camera Comet 46P/Wirtanen in late 2018. The write-up was published in Astrophysical Journal Letters on November 22nd 2019. The outburst itself occurred on September 26th 2018 when an estimated million kilograms of material was ejected from the comet. There were actually several outbursts on Wirtanen as the comet moved towards and around the Sun (apparently brushed by the solar wind). The tail of the comet was also pushed around by solar wind as opposed to the trail of debris in its wake. The trail is composed of the largest pieces of debris. In contrast tail dust is very fine, almost like smoke. Trail dust is more like sand and gravels, even pebbles. When earth encounters a comet dust trail (left behins after the passage) we get meteorites.

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