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Comet Hyakutake (Astronomy) C/1996 B2

Comet Hyakutake Basic Facts:
  • Officially designated C/1996 B2.
  • Discovered on January 31, 1996 by Yuji Hyakutake, an amateur astronomer.
  • Passed very close to Earth in March 1996.
  • Had one of the closest cometary approaches of a comet for the past 200 years.
  • At it's closest point it was 0.10 astronomical units (15 million km) from the earth.
  • Hyakutake appeared very bright in the night sky during it's visit.
  • Called 'The Great Comet of 1996'.
  • Comet nucleus measured at about 2 km across.
  • Classified as a long period comet, with a calculated period of 100,000 years.
  • The Ulysses spacecraft unexpectedly crossed the Hyakutake's tail (distance > 500 million km from the nucleus) confirming that the comet had the longest tail ever recorded.
Comet Hyakutake Composition:
  • Contains ethane and methane in approximately equal measures.
  • This suggests that it's ices formed in interstellar space, away from the Sun, at temperatures of less than or equal to 20 degrees Kelvin.
  • The 3 × 10−4 ratio of deuterium to hydrogen in the comet's water ices (determined through spectroscopic observations) is about twice that of the Earth's oceans (~1.5 × 10−4).
Image Credit - John Walker (public domain)

Posted by ALCHEssMIST.
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