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News Release Archive:

News Release 132 of 180

October 10, 1995 12:00 AM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-1995-41

Hubble Sees Material Ejected from Comet Hale-Bopp

October 10, 1995: 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.

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Credit: H.A. Weaver (Applied Research Corp.), P.D. Feldman (The Johns Hopkins University), and NASA