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This is one of the latest images of comet Hale-Bopp. Notice the intense tail
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National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Comet Hale-Bopp

Comet Hale-Bopp was one of the brightest comets of all time. Astronomers witnessed the comet spew out intermittent bursts of dust. The surface seemed to be an incredibly dynamic place, with 'vents' being turned on and off.

The nucleus structure itself is more complex than astronomers had thought before. 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.

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