Shop Windows to the Universe

We now offer the Cool It! card game in our Science Store. Cool It! is the new card game from UCS that teaches kids about the choices we have when it comes to climate change.
This is one of the latest images of comet Hale-Bopp. Notice the intense tail
Click on image for full size
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Comet Hale-Bopp

Hale-Bopp continues to offer new surprises as two astronomers report of their study of the comet. Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Ultraviolet Explorer, the astronomers did a year-long study on Hale-Bopp to find that their are distinctly different ices in the comet's nucleus, the nucleus is huge, and the nucleus is extremely active.

The comet's nucleus seems to be erupting upon itself. Astronomers witnessed the comet spew out dust in intermittent bursts. The surface seems to be an incredibly dynamic place, with 'vents' being turned on and off as new patches of icy material are rotated into sunlight for the first time.

The nucleus' structure itself is more complex than astronomers had thought. Astonomers theorized that trace gases were contained within water ice. According to Hubble Space Telescope observations, however, Hale-Bopp's nucleus has trace components contained within their own ice structure, with water ice remaining separate and uniform.

In addition, the nucleus is tremendously large. Astronomers have estimated Hale-Bopp's nucleus to be 19-25 miles (30-40 kilometers) in diameter. Comets are thought to have a nucleus of about 3 miles (5 kilometers) on average.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes books on science education, ranging from evolution, classroom research, and the need for science and math literacy!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

SOHO Catches Glimpse of the Sun's "Far Side"

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) caught a rare view of the far side of the Sun. Scientists can now see if a solar storm is coming before it reaches Earth. This may save the satellite industry...more

Comet Hale-Bopp

Hale-Bopp continues to offer new surprises as two astronomers report of their study of the comet. Using the Hubble Space Telescope and the International Ultraviolet Explorer, the astronomers did a year-long...more

Missions to Halley's comet in 1986

Six spacecraft flew by Halley's comet in 1986. There were two spacecraft launched from Japan, Suisei and Sakigake, and two from the Soviet Union, Vega 1 & 2. One spacecraft, ICE, from the United States...more

The Jupiter family of comets

Comets are observed to go around the sun in a long period of time or a short period of time. Thus they are named "long-period" or "short-period" comets. One group of short-period comets, called the Jupiter...more

What we learned from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Scientists have learned a great deal from the crash of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. Scientists traced the orbit of the comet backwards in time to guess its origin. The crash of a comet like Shoemaker-Levy 9...more

The trajectory of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 over time

Mathematical theory suggests that comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was likely a short-period comet which was captured into orbit around Jupiter in 1929 and began to execute the path plotted in this diagram. This...more

The Comet Coma

As the ices of the comet nucleus evaporate, they expand rapidly into a large cloud around the central part of the comet. This cloud, called the coma, is the atmosphere of the comet and can extend for millions...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF