This image shows Comet Linear brightening when it blew off part of its crust. Clicking on this image will show you the Hubble Space Telescope's chronicle of the outburst.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope, NASA, and H. Weaver at Johns Hopkins University
Linear was discovered on September, 27 1999, by the Lincoln Near-Earth Asteroid Research program in New Mexico.
Comet Linear came the closest to the Sun
on July 26, 2000. It was still 114 million kilometers away though!
Scientists aren't sure if Comet Linear has ever been to our solar system before and they are not sure if it'll ever return. If the comet does return, it may be millions of years from now.
Compared to other recent comets like Hyakutake and Hale-Bopp, Comet Linear was a faint comet. At its brightest, it was only as bright as the faintest stars you can see without a telescope or binoculars. But, LINEAR did put on a great show for the Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble was tracking the comet for two days, July 5-July 7. At 6:32 p.m. EDT on July 5th, comet Linear blew off a piece of its crust. The Hubble telescope watched the light brighten by an extra 50% in less than four hours. Astronomers were excited because they can learn about comet structure from this eruption.
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