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Comet Wirtanen

Comet Wirtanen



A three colour image of Comet Wirtanen, taken from observations on Pik Terskol, which shows the three cometary components - dust, neutral gas and ions. Using different filters on the telescope, the cometary water (H2O) ions appear red, the dust is green and neutral CN gas is blue. This shows Wirtanen's ion tail (here H2O+) for the first time. It appears as a straight, red diffuse band to the left side (anti-sunward direction). The blue sphere is the very extended neutral CN coma. In contrast to this, the dust is much more concentrated and dominates the near nucleus region, here seen as a yellowish green colour. This image illustrates that 46P/Wirtanen is dust poor and about 2-3 times less dusty than Comet Halley.

Photo Max-Planck-Institut fur Aeronomie, courtesy T. Credner, K. Jockers, T.Bonev

Last Update: 1 September 2019
17-Oct-2021 09:38 UT

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