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ESO Image of Comet Hale-Bopp


Observers: Anne-Marie Lagrange, Jean Luc Beuzit, Patrice Bouchet
Location: European Southern Observatory, La Silla, Chile
Date: August 16-17, 1995

Adaptive Optics Image of Comet Hale-Bopp

ESO Press Photo 22/95 25 August 1995

Comet Hale-Bopp was discovered by American amateur astronomers Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp on July 23, 1995. Although it is still located beyond the orbit of Jupiter, it is unusually bright. This comet may possibly develop into a beautiful object in early 1997.

ESO Press Photo 22/95 shows innermost part of the comet's head. It is reproduced from an image that was obtained by Anne-Marie Lagrange, Jean Luc Beuzit and Patrice Bouchet on August 16-17, 1995, with the ADONIS adaptive optics instrument at the 3.6-metre telescope on La Silla. It is a composite of three 1-minute exposures through an infrared K-filtre centered at wavelength 2.2 microns. The field measures 13 x 13 arcseconds. The pixel size is 0.05 arcseconds. North is up and east is to the left.

On this photo, the central condensation of the comet is clearly extended; it measures about 1.7 arcseconds across (FWHM), or about 7700 kilometres at the distance of the comet. It represents the densest part of the cloud of dust particles that surrounds the cometary nucleus. An asymmetric coma (dust cloud) extends towards the North.

ESO Press Photo 22/95 may be reproduced, if credit is given to the European Southern Observatory.

ESO Press Information is made available on the World-Wide Web (URL: and on CompuServe (space science and astronomy area, GO SPACE).

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