NASA’s Parker Solar Probe has taken a remarkable picture of the NEOWISE comet discovered in March.
The probe that recently flew past Venus was able to detect NEOWISE’s double tails, also known as C / 2020 F3, “when it was particularly active immediately after it approached the sun, called perihelion” , wrote the NASA website.
The image was taken with the probe’s WISPR instrument, which records the outer atmosphere of the sun and the solar wind in visible light.
NEOWISE COMET AND RARE ASTRONOMICAL PHENOMENONES DETECTED IN REMARKABLE IMAGES
Most comets have two tails, a dust tail and one made of electrically charged molecules, according to NASA. However, it is possible that NEOWISE has two ion tails, which fascinated the researchers.
“The lower tail, which appears broad and blurry, is the dust tail of the comet NEOWISE – is created when dust lifts off the surface of the comet’s nucleus and remains in orbit behind the comet,” added NASA in the statement.
“The upper tail is the ion tail, which consists of gases ionized by the loss of electrons in intense sunlight. These ionized gases are hit by the solar wind – the constant outflow of magnetized material through the sun – and form the ion tail that stretches directly away from the sun, “continued NASA. “The images from Parker Solar Probe appear to show a gap in the ion tail. This could mean that the comet NEOWISE has two ion tails in addition to its dust tail, although scientists would need more data and analysis to confirm this possibility.”
The comet was discovered on March 27 by NASA’s NEOWISE space telescope (Near-Earth Object Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer).
A COMET IS VISIBLE THIS MONTH: NASA HAS THESE TIPS FOR SKYWATCHERS
The comet was visible to the naked eye, NASA said on its website.
“Towards the middle of the month, the comet is visible about 10 degrees above the northeastern horizon (the width of your extended fist) in the hour before sunrise,” added the space agency. “From mid-July it can best be seen as an evening object that rises higher and higher over the northwestern horizon. “
NASA notes that the comet is closest to Earth on July 22nd at a distance of approximately 64 million miles.
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Fox News’ James Rogers contributed to this story.