ESO Very Large Telescopes study comet after impact
Through the night of 4 July 2005, all European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescopes observed the effects of the impact on Comet 9P/Tempel 1. At sunset in Chile, the seven telescopes of the La Silla Paranal Observatory went into action.
The FORS2 multi-mode instrument on Antu, one of the 8.2-metre Unit Telescopes of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) array, took stunning images, showing that the morphology of the comet had dramatically changed: a new bright fan-like structure was now visible.
The impact occurred at 07:52 CEST on 4 July. At that time, the comet had already set below the horizon in Chile, so ESO VLTs could only start observations several hours later, at 21:20 CEST. A pre-impact image is shown here for comparison.
The first ESO observations were actually done in the infrared by the TMMI2 instrument on the 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla, at 21:20 CEST (still daylight in Chile).
These observations showed the comet to be two to three times brighter in the infrared than the day before the impact. The coma is also much more extended than it was before the impact.
The fan lies in the southern part of the image and is rather bright and well defined. This feature is an addition to those that were already visible during the previous days that seems to still be underlying the new one. Behind this fan, the old coma from yesterday is still present.
The new structure is about 15 000 kilometres in length, indicating that the matter has been ejected with a speed of about 700 to 1000 kilometres per hour.
Further observations during the week will study the evolution of this fan, revealing if the probe has activated a new region of the surface and how long that region remains active.
The fan is visible through the reflection of sunlight on dust grains. The fact that the big plume is not uniform in colour probably indicates that dust particles of different sizes are travelling at different speeds.
Later at La Silla, the SOFI instrument on the NTT telescope imaged the comet in the near-infrared.
An image in the J-band also shows the dust shell from the impact in the south-western quadrant of the coma.
The very inner coma (indicated by the white box) shows ongoing enhanced activity compared to the pre-impact level.
The astronomers at the La Silla Paranal Observatory will continue to observe Comet 9P/Tempel 1 for another four days in order to monitor precisely its longer-term behaviour.
Gerhard Schwehm | EurekAlert!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...