Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

March 30, 1996

An Extreme UltraViolet View of the Comet
Credit: M. Mumma (GSFC) et al., EUVE Support Team, NASA

Explanation: As the Sun floods Comet Hyakutake with ultraviolet light gases in the coma scatter the radiation and fluoresce making the comet a bright source in the ultraviolet sky. The above image made using data from NASA's Extreme UltraViolet Explorer (EUVE) satellite, represents the intensity of the comet in this invisible high energy band in false colour. The image is about 3/4 of a degree high and 2 degress wide and offers insights to the composition of this visitor from the distant solar system that can be obtained from the highest energy bands of the ultraviolet spectrum. The International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) satellite has also examined ultraviolet light from the comet and now reports the detection of many bands of molecular emission particularly those due to molecular carbon (C2), carbon monoxide (CO) and caron dioxide (C02) ions as well as indications of a rapid increase in the production of water (H20).

Tomorrow's picture: The Latest on Comet Hyakutake

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.