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.
You might also be interested in:
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
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was one of the most important exploration tools of the past two decades, and will continue to serve as a great resource well into the new millennium. The HST found numerous...more
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
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
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
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
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