Cometary Sunday


THE CARBON MONOXIDE COMET: Astronomers are marveling at the wild blue color and even wilder dynamics of Comet PanSTARRS (C/2016 R2), now approaching the sun beyond the orbit of Mars. Every day, it seems, another cloud of dusty gas billows down the comet’s tail as gaseous jets swivel around the comet’s core. This is what the comet looked like on Jan. 10th:

Amateur astronomer Gerald Rhemann took the picture from his private observatory in Farm Tivoli, Namibia. “This is a 56 minute guided exposure through a 12-inch telescope,” he explains.

The comet’s extraordinary behavior can be traced to one key ingredient: carbon monoxide (CO). The comet’s core is spewing 4.7 x 1028 CO molecules into space every second, according to recent measurements at the Arizona Radio Observatory’s 10-m Submillimeter Telescope. This accounts for the comet’s lovely color (because ionized CO glows blue) and its hyperactivity. Carbon monoxide is extremely volatile. CO can sublimate (change suddenly from solid to gas) at temperatures as low as -248 C (25 K). Only a little bit of sunlight is required to turn deposits of frozen CO into wild jets and billowing clouds.


About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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17 Responses to Cometary Sunday

  1. Den says:

    Pumping out the CO just like an old Ford, *cough*.


  2. David B. Benson says:

    Sunny and cool. Recycling finally taken out.


  3. Carol ٩(-̮̮̃-̃)۶ says:

    Next time Pete comes over he’s going to have to use the canned air, take the cover off my PC and blow the dust out of the video card. Screen starting to pixilate more often where I have to shut computer down. And this, right while I’m trying to work on a video for Brian and Jill.

    Still cold out there.


  4. David B. Benson says:

    Up to the TVD bridge and then back south all the way to the Old Post Office for Brazilian seafood stew again. This just took 62 minutes so I must have kept bustling right along. The Missouri Flat Creek was way down. What seemed to be two flying insect eaters out having their evening repast. I’m surprised that there are flying insects this early in the year.


  5. Den says:

    A Dogbird or is that birddog?


  6. David B. Benson says:

    What happened on this day in 83 BCE?


  7. Micki says:

    I’ve heard it said, a clear marker of maturity is the ability to see the impermanence of all things without feeling totally destroyed by it.

    The house next door to me sat empty for almost 3 years. Gail, who lived there, developed severe dementia and was scuttled off to a “memory care home.” She died at Silverado about a year ago. Her two daughters had a battle over the distribution of property — one daughter was left out of the will.

    Fast forward to around the recent holidays…the house was finally placed on the market. It got 4 offers, in short order! The prevailing couple was represented by the same real estate agent that Bill and I used when we bought our house.

    Mike, the agent, told me when his clients’ offer was accepted, “Micki, you’re going to have really nice neighbors.” They wanted to meet me. We were going to have coffee on Jan 8. They closed on the house on Jan 5. Mike called to say that David (husband half of the couple) wasn’t feeling well, but he’d be back in touch soon to introduce us.

    David died on January 10.

    It is very strange. I’m certainly not feeling destroyed by the death of a person I’ve never met. But, the impermanence and unpredictability of when one’s time is UP, sure has an impact.

    I can’t even imagine how his wife must feel.


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