Tuesday, October 3, 2017

HUBBLE SPOTS FURTHEST ACTIVE INBOUND COMET TO DATE

Image of Comet C/2017 K2

 Hubble has spotted the farthest active inbound comet yet. Comet C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS is a solitary frozen traveler that has been journeying for millions of years towards the inner solar system.
Currently the comet is located between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus, where sunlight is only about 1/225th the brightness normally seen from Earth. Comets are considered active only when the near the sun. This one is indeed active, however it is still quite a distance away.
The following is an excerpt from HubbleSite regarding the comet:
"The wayward vagabond, a city-sized snowball of ice and dust called a comet, was gravitationally kicked out of the Oort Cloud, its frigid home at the outskirts of the solar system. This region is a vast comet storehouse, composed of icy leftover building blocks from the construction of the planets 4.6 billion years ago.
The comet is so small, faint, and far away that it eluded detection. Finally, in May 2017, astronomers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS) in Hawaii spotted the solitary intruder at a whopping 1.5 billion miles away – between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. The Hubble Space Telescope was enlisted to take close-up views of the comet …"
Read more about this fascinating story at: http://earthsky.org/space/c2017-k2-panstarrs-farthest-inbound-active-comet

Schematic of Comet C/2017 K2’s approach to the inner solar system.
Schematic of Comet C/2017 K2’s approach to the inner solar system.



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