Swift satellite monitors departing Comet Garradd

An outbound comet that provided a nice show for skywatchers late last year is the target of an ongoing investigation by NASA's Swift satellite. Formally designated C/2009 P1 (Garradd), the unusually dust-rich comet provides a novel opportunity to characterize how cometary activity changes at ever greater distance from the sun. A comet is a clump of frozen gases mixed with dust. These "dirty snowballs" cast off gas and dust whenever they venture near the sun. What powers this activity is frozen water transforming from solid ice to gas, a process called sublimation. Jets powered by ice sublimation release dust, which reflects sunlight and brightens the comet. Typically, a comet's water content remains frozen until it comes within about three times Earth's distance to the sun, or 3 astronomical units (AU), so astronomers regard this as the solar system's "snow line." "Comet Garradd was producing lots of dust and gas well before it reached the snow line, which tells us that the activity was powered by something o

Swift satellite monitors departing Comet Garradd

(Phys.org) -- An outbound comet that provided a nice show for skywatchers late last year is the target of an ongoing investigation by NASA's Swift satellite. Formally designated C/2009 P1 (Garradd), ...

Fri 13 Apr 12 from Phys.org

NASA's Swift monitors departing Comet Garradd

Astronomy Magazine News Article - Released:4/17/2012

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