Asset Publisher

Identification of comet Hyakutake's extremely long ion tail from magnetic field signatures

Identification of comet Hyakutake's extremely long ion tail from magnetic field signatures

Publication date: 07 April 2000

Authors: Jones, G., et al.

Journal: Nature
Volume: 404
Page: pp. 574-576
Year: 2000

Copyright: 2000 Macmillan Magazines Ltd

Observations of the varying orientations of comet tails led to the suggestion of the existence of the solar wind - a continuous outflow of ionized material from the Sun. It is now well established that gas from comets is ionized by several processes and joins the solar wind, forming an ion (plasma) tail that points away from the Sun. The plasma environments of three comets have been measured in situ, but only in the upstream direction or less than 8,000 km downstream of the nucleus. Here we report a fortuitous crossing by a spacecraft of the plasma tail of comet Hyakutake (C/1996 B2), at a distance of more than 3.8 astronomical units (550 million kilometres) from its nucleus. This surpasses the tail length of 2 au determined for the Great March Comet of 1843 (C/1843 D1). Our measurements reveal that, at this distance, the tail of comet Hyakutake was a structured entity at least 7 million kilometres in diameter.

Link to publication
Last Update: Sep 1, 2019 8:06:05 AM
23-Sep-2020 06:28 UT

ShortUrl Portlet

Shortcut URL

https://sci.esa.int/s/AGdveQw

Images And Videos

Related Publications

Related Links

Documentation