A new study reveals similarities and relationships between certain types of chemicals found on 30 different comets, which vary widely in their overall composition compared to one another. The research is part of ongoing investigations into these primordial bodies, which contain material largely unchanged from the solar system’s birth some 4.6 billion years ago.
The sharpest, most detailed observations of a comet breaking apart have been captured with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The images suggest that the roughly 4.5-billion-year-old comet, named 332P/Ikeya-Murakami, may be spinning so fast that material is ejected from its surface. The resulting debris is now scattered along a 3,000-mile-long trail.
A sequence of images taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope shows rotation of Comet 252P/LINEAR on 4 April 2016, roughly two weeks after the icy visitor came within 3.3 million miles of Earth, or about 14 times the distance between our planet and the Moon. These observations also represent the closest celestial object Hubble has observed, other than the Moon.