Hubble Sees Material Ejected from Comet Hale-Bopp
These Hubble telescope pictures of comet Hale-Bopp show a remarkable "pinwheel" pattern and a blob of free-flying debris near its center. The image at left shows the entire comet; the picture at right is a close-up of the nucleus.
The bright clump of light along the spiral [just above the center of the picture] may be a piece of the comet's icy crust. Although the "blob" is about 3.5 times fainter than the brightest portion at the comet's center, the lump appears brighter because it covers a larger area. The debris follows a spiral pattern outward because the solid center is rotating like a lawn sprinkler, completing a single rotation about once per week.