The first animation of the comet Elenin from the HI1-B camera

Images represented in false colors.

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Comet Elenin is attracting more and more interest in the scientific community

NASA

Comet Elenin is attracting more and more interest in the scientific community; at the end of July observations were made on the largest submillimeter telescope in the world JCMT. Since August 1st, observations are ongoing with the space telescope STEREO-B; they will continue for several weeks. It is probable that the comet will be visible in the field of the COR2 (STEREO) coronagraph beginning August 20. Beginning September 23rd, for 6 days, the comet will be visible in the field of view of the LASCO C3 coronagraph on the SOHO spacecraft.

Very recently I received information that several more spacecraft may observe comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin), specifically Venus Express and Messenger. These observations will allow us to obtain unique information about the comet at the time of its perihelion when it will not be observable from the Earth.

Observations are planned with SPICAV UV in the 110-310 nm wavelength band on the Venus Express spacecraft and Messenger’s MASCS spectrograph. Moreover, by simultaneous observations from two spacecraft with different points of view, with the VMC camera on Venus Express and the MDIS camera on Messenger, it is possible to obtain a three-dimensional model of the comet’s coma! It is possible that comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin) may become the brightest comet that these two spacecraft may observe during their entire time of service. I hope this application is approved and the observations take place.

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Comet Elenina “smells” like bitter almonds

JCMT / JAC

M. Drahus, University of California at Los Angeles; Bin Yang, University of Hawaii; and J. Hoge, Joint Astronomy Centre, report the detection of HCN (Hydrogen cyanide) in comet C/2010 X1 on July 30 when at heliocentric distance r = 1.07 AU. Observations between July 30.153 and 30.249 UT at the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope show the J = 4-3 line with area about 0.1 K km/s in antenna temperature scale. Assuming an isotropic production of gas at velocity 0.5 km/s and a Boltzmann distribution of energy levels at 50 K, the derived HCN production rate is 1.5 x 1025 molecules/s, comparable to the mean level measured in comet 103P/Hartley at the same heliocentric distance in late 2010 (Drahus et al. 2011, Ap.J. 734, L4).

http://www.cbat.eps.harvard.edu/iau/cbet/002700/CBET002781.txt (subscription required).

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A new animation of the comet Elenin flyby

Comet Elenin from STEREO-B spacecraft on Aug. 3 2011. Comet just passed through Orion’s Belt a few hours ago.

Cropped frames, zoom 2x.

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Diameter of coma of comet Elenin exceeded 200,000 km

GFSC / NASA / L. Elenin

A few hours ago I got the first original comet images in FITS format, taken on August 1 (many thanks to Karl Battams, STEREO team member). Several frames was damaged, but the team believes that will solve this problem at the next session. I stacked all images by the comet movement, this has increase the singnal/noise ratio, see the comet with more “details”.

So, the first results. The comet has grown. Now the diameter of it’s outer coma exceeded 200,000 km! Of course, at this time we have only low resolution images, but they still allow us to estimateits current size. I want to remind you that the outer coma, it’s very discharged gas envelope, not the nucleus itself, estimates of the nucleus size has not changed. On the left picture you can see the comet itself, as well as the angular size of the Sun, if it was located at the same distance as comet. Impressive?

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