Next Image   Clusters and Others Gallery   Image Gallery   Learn More



Posted 12/10/07 - Comet Holmes

In October 2007 this comet suddenly got about half a million times brighter! It was discovered in 1892 and orbits the Sun about every 7 years. It was first speculated that it may have been hit by an another object but the Hubble Space Telecope examined it closely and found no evidence of a break up of the core. Scientists now believe that the comet developed a shell of ice with gas trapped underneath. As the gas warmed pressure built up and eventually the shell opened, suddenly releasing the gas trapped within. On the night I took this image it was extremely windy, so much so that I ordinarily wouldn't have attempted any camera work. However, I had seen the comet with my unaided eye and through binoculars and it was so spectacular and unusual that I really wanted an image to record it.