NICMOS/HST POST-PERIHELION IMAGES OF COMET HALE–BOPP IN OUTBURST


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Abstract

Near-infrared images of comet Hale–Bopp (C/1995 O1)) were obtained from NICMOS/HST on UT August 27–28, 1997, when the comet emerged from the 50 degree solar elongation limit at 2.99 AU from Earth. Diffraction-limited images were obtained with camera 2 filters centered at 1.87, 1.90, 2.04 and 2.22 μm with ∼0.2‘‘ resolution (0.076‘‘/pixel; 165 km/pixel)). Over the 1.7-hour baseline of observation, a recent (<7 hours)) outburst is seen in the form of an expanding spiral arm with a projected expansion velocity of ∼80 m/s. Other asymmetric features include a jet emanating from the nucleus and several static linear features. Comparisons of the flux distribution in the 2.04 and 2.22 μm filters indicate that the region near the nucleus exhibits a slight, ∼3%, water ice absorption.

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