Photos of the Sun

Comet Hale-Bopp. Mounts and kites

Comet Hale-Bopp. Mounts and kites

This photo of Comet Hale-Bopp was taken on March 15, 1977 from the Tierra Del Sol Observatory in San Diego, through a 25-minute exhibition. It shows a very dense and bright tail forming a swirl from the core.

The stream of light along the spiral could be a piece of the comet's icy crust that was launched into space by a combination of the evaporation of ice and the rotation of the comet, and then disintegrated into a bright cloud of particles .

The debris traces a spiral as they separate because the core rotates like a sprinkler, completing one rotation per week.

The comet remained visible for an exceptionally long period, which allowed for important research on these celestial bodies. For example, astronomers discovered in the Hale-Bopp a third tail (apart from those of gas and dust), not observable to the naked eye, composed of sodium atoms.

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Album: Photos of the Solar System Gallery: Mounts and comets