Comet Hale-Bopp

Comet Hale-Bopp, photographed on the evening of April 02, 1997. This image apparently shows an ephemeral event, the ejection of a core fragment; it is seen as a small comet-like object above the comet's nucleus and coma. The timing of the photograph corresponds approximately to perihelion, when extreme solar heating of the comet might well be expected to trigger such phenomena.
This is apparently the only known photograph of this event.

The image is one of a series of bracketed exposures made with a Nikon SLR and a 55mm Nikon macro lens of 2.8 aperture. Film used was 400 ASA color print film. The event captured in the image was short-lived, since it appears in neither the frame preceding nor the frame following this particular one-minute exposure. The "star-trail" effect, indication of the duration of the exposure, also shows that the event did not appear for the entire duration of the exposure. The scanned images displayed on this page are compressed so that they may display quickly on the Web.

The false-color image above shows additional detail, and clearly differentiates the fragment from stars by both density and detail.

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Page and images © 1997 by Robert F. Jeantet

Last updated March 22 1999
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