The images show that the core of the comet, which is about 50 kilometers long, still traps a surprisingly long tail of dust and gas. The comet is currently about 13 times as far from the sun as the earth.
The heat and the radiation of the sun are responsible for the fact that the comets, which mainly consist of water and other volatile substances, gradually dissolve. At a greater distance from the sun, the activity, ie the loss of material, of comets therefore decreases. But Hale-Bopp has been continuously active since his next approach to the sun four years ago.
Many astronomers believe this is due to its unusually large core. Although Hale-Bopp moves away from the sun at a speed of one million kilometers a day, it will still be visible to telescopes in the southern hemisphere for years to come. "It will be interesting to see how long the current, very unusual activity is still going on, " writes the European Southern Observatory in a press release. displayUte Kehse