News Release Archive:

News Release 855 of 1051

March 27, 1996 12:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-1996-14

Hubble Probes Inner Region of Comet Hyakutake

Background information useful for exploring this news release:

Evolution of a Comets Nucleus

A comet nucleus is a giant dirty snowball which is a remant of the solar system's formation 4.6 billion years ago. As the nucleus journeys from the cold, dark regions beyond Pluto and gets closer to the sun, the various ices in the nucleus start vaporizing furiously, driving off the dust particles that form the now familiar fuzzy coma and dust tail. In addition, some of the gas molecules leaving the nucleus get stripped of one of their electrons by solar ultraviolet light and are captured into the long, straight ion tails that point away from the sun.

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