Comet C/1996 B2 (Hyakutake) at NOAO using the 0.9m Telescope

NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation
These images are freely available for informational or instructional use. Please attach the following credit: "Courtesy National Optical Astronomy Observatories and National Science Foundation."

yellow ball This picture was taken at the Kitt Peak 0.9m telescope on the night of Thursday March 21st by Yanga R. Fernandez of the University of Maryland, during a project with Carey M. Lisse, Michael F. A'Hearn, and Dennis D. Wellnitz (also of the University of Maryland). The frame covers about 12 arc minutes on a side or, at the distance of the comet at the time the picture was taken, about 70000 km. This is among the first images to show a clear tail close to the nucleus, pointing back in the same direction as the plasma tail seen at larger scales (and by the naked eye). In addition, there is a definite asymmetry with respect to the sun-comet line, with the north side (to the left in this frame) being brighter than the south. The scientists are studying how structures in the coma and near the nucleus change with time. In this false color composite, red and blue colors show different aspects of the dust distribution, while the green color shows emission from molecules of carbon gas, which is an indicator of the level of activity of the comet. (Note this is a different color scheme than was used for the WIYN images.) The reductions and color enhancements of this image were done by Dr. Nigel Sharp (520-318-8273) at NOAO.

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