In October 2007, comet 17P/Holmes, otherwise spectacular, produced one of the most spectacular cometary flares ever observed. Remnants of the event can be seen by amateur telescopes in the northern hemisphere this month. We’ll show you when and how to find them.
Finnish astronomer Markku Nissinen recalls about 15 years ago when astronomers first noticed a strong brightening of a 3.4-kilometer-wide comet. Within days, the dust and gas shroud surrounding the icy object known as 17P/Holmes was as large as the Sun, and the comet’s brightness increased by a million times. “I didn’t know what happened at the time,” Nissinen said. “It was really amazing. It’s really amazing how it has grown. I haven’t seen anything like it since.”
“This comet is a Jupiter-family comet, but unlike any other Jupiter-family comet we have seen before.” has occurred 3 times. None of the other comets in the Jupiter family have ever done so.Something is different with this one. ”
There are about 600 known comets in the Jupiter system, icy rocks in elliptical orbits around the Sun, with the furthest point between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Jupiter-family comets tend to dim when they visit the central solar system every 20 years or more, according to Swinburne University in Australia. As it approaches the Sun, the comet heats up and consumes volatile compounds responsible for producing a bright cometary tail.
They discovered the trail of dust and micrometeoroids was visible even in amateur telescopes this summer, and are now encouraging astronomers to point their lenses at the trail to better understand the mysterious comet. .
Astronomers don’t know what caused 17P/Holmes’ unusual explosion in 2007, but observing the dust clouds and meteor bodies that triggered the event may shed light on this mystery. I hope we can. Earlier this year, Nissinen and Maria Gritsevich, planetary scientists at the University of Helsinki, Finland, published a study that analyzed the trajectories of these comet fragments to determine their trajectories through space.
According to them, the Earth will cross the debris trail’s orbit in mid-August, but astronomers will have to wait until after the full moon on August 11 until the moon’s light has overtaken the dust.
Amateur astronomers with telescopes 11 inches (30 cm) or larger and CCD cameras should be able to find the trails with a little technical skill, Gritsevitch said, and Skywatcher spent two nights. After looking at each other in a row, I added that I should focus on the track. Subtract the image to remove noise.
“Most amateur astronomers can do it now,” she said. “People these days have sophisticated viewing systems and know how to subtract images, so it’s relatively easy.” British amateur astronomer Richard Miles, director of the Asteroids and Distant Planets Division of the British Astronomical Society, told Space.com in an email that the best time to try his luck at catching a trail is 3. Said it was after the 22nd of the month. weaken enough.
“Detecting dust trails visible laterally as the Earth passes through the plane of the 17P/Holmes orbit requires high-sensitivity cameras and fast focal ratio optics,” Miles wrote. “Dust he trail surface brightness is very low, probably less than 25 he per square second in the sky, only a few percentage points brighter than the normal dark sky background sky.”
- This month, sky watchers can see the debris from an impressive cometary outburst.
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