Come home, comet right now, you’re drunk. Comets often contain some surprisingly complex molecules, including alcohol. However, Comet 46p / Virtenen crossed the Earth in an unusual amount of CH3OH when it passed Earth in 2018. Perhaps it is perhaps not surprising then that it showed something else as strange and still unspoken behavior. Comet Virtenen is a short-lived comet, with an orbit of only 5.4 years.
In fact, it seems normal that it was once planned to be the target of the Rosetta mission, which instead ended up in comet 67P / Churiyumov-Gerasimenko. Telescopes around the world were trained to do so when it made one of the 10 closest to Earth by a comet (about 12 million kilometers) in the last 70 years. In previous passes, Ritanen has been dubbed “hypertensive” because it appears to have dropped unusually fast. The results of the Cake Telescope, upgraded just before its inspection of the NIRSPEC spectrum, have now been published in the journal Planetary Science with eyebrow raising features.
Dr Neil Dello Russo of Johns Hopkins University said in a statement, “It tells us how carbon, oxygen and hydrogen molecules were distributed in the first solar system where Warten formed.” This is not the only strange thing Wertenen finds. Comets are “dirty snowballs”, icy gases, rocks and dust. The sun’s heat is falling on the comet’s nucleus, and the sun’s heat is heating up the ice. In the absence of an atmosphere, liquid action is impossible, so once a certain type of ice melts it goes directly into a gas and creates a coma around the comet.
The comatose is expected to cool further away from the nucleus, as the air expands, just as it did in the case of Viraten. “We found that the temperature measured for water gas in the coma did not decrease significantly with the distance from the nucleus, which refers to the heating process,” said Professor Erica Gibb, co-author of the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The authors aren’t sure what was heating up the incredibly scattered molecules in the coma, but there are two possibilities for further investigation. “46P / Wirtanen Flying ice can have a hard part.
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