Feeds

Hubble snaps flashy Tempel-1

Warm up display

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Hubble has snapped some snazzy images of Comet Tempel-1, the target of NASA's Deep Impact probe, just days before the two bodies are set to collide.

Hubble snaps the comet. Credits NASA, ESA, P. Feldman (Johns Hopkins University), and H. Weaver (Applied Physics Lab)

The pictures show a jet of dust streaming towards the sun from the icy core of the comet, in what astronomers hope is a warm up for the display many are expecting when Deep Impact hits the comet on 4 July.

Comets are prone to outbursts of activity like this, but the exact reasons for the activity are not well understood, according to the European Space Agency. One theory is that the heat from the sun opened a crack on the surface of the comet's nucleus, allowing trapped dust and gas to escape.

Another explanation is that a chunk of the surface itself was lifted off the nucleus as gas pressure built up below it. As the gas explodes, it might break the crust into tiny pieces, resulting in the fan shaped expulsion seen in the pictures.

When Deep Impact arrives at the comet on Monday next week, astronomers hope the impact will cause a similar display as the probe crashes in to the comet at many thousands of miles an hour. ®

Related stories

Green light for tests on really big telescope designs
Bush bins Hubble fix
Deep Impact en route to Tempel 1
NASA throws Deep Impact spacecraft at comet

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.