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News Release Archive:

News Release 297 of 954

November 15, 2007 09:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2007-40

Hubble Zooms In on Heart of Mystery Comet

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Image: Comet 17P/Holmes Hubble Image Series

Comet 17P/Holmes Hubble Image Series

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These images taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope reveal Comet Holmes's bright core. The images show that the coma, the cloud of dust and gas encircling the comet, is getting fainter over time. The coma was brightest in the Oct. 29 image. It is two times fainter on Oct. 31 and nine times dimmer on Nov. 4 than during the Oct. 29 observation.

The coma is getting fainter because it is expanding. A huge number of small dust particles was created during the Oct. 23 outburst. Since then those particles have been moving away from the nucleus and filling interplanetary space. The coma therefore is becoming more diffuse over time.

The nucleus, however, is still active and is producing a significant amount of new dust. So the region around the nucleus is still much brighter (at least 10 times brighter) than it usually is at this point in the comet's orbit.

Object Name: Comet 17P/Holmes

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Credit: NASA, ESA, and H. Weaver (Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Lab)

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

Comet 17P/Holmes Hubble Image - October 29, 2007 Image Type: Astronomical Comet 17P/Holmes Hubble Image - October 29, 2007 Comet 17P/Holmes Hubble Image - October 31, 2007 Image Type: Astronomical Comet 17P/Holmes Hubble Image - October 31, 2007 Comet 17P/Holmes Hubble Image - November 4, 2007 Image Type: Astronomical Comet 17P/Holmes Hubble Image - November 4, 2007

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