ESO Observations of Comet Tempel 1


FORS2 Image of the Comet taken on July 2, 2005
FORS2 image of Comet Tempel 1, taken during the night of July 2 to 3, 2005. The R-band image appears in a logarithmic grey scale on the left. On the right image, it has been processed using a method that enhances the low contrast features in the coma (by subtracting a mean radial profile). This puts in evidence the various "fans" and "jets" that correspond to areas of the nucleus surface that are more active (i.e. releasing more dust and gas in space) than the surrounding. The scale in kilometres indicates the extension of the coma - the nucleus, only 6km long, is completely hidden in the single central pixel of the image.

ESO PR Photo 02a/05

False-colour image taken with EMMI/NTT
False-colour image of Comet Tempel 1 observed with EMMI on the NTT during the night of July 2-3, 2005. Background stars passing through the field of view due to the motion of the comet, appear like a "string of pearls" at the upper edge of the image. The colour coding in these star trails represents the usage of three filters transmitting light in different wavelength regions in the blue and UV part of the spectrum: red colour represents the transmission filter for light typical for C3 gas, green for the CN gas and blue for dust reflected sunlight in the coma. The field of view is 6 x 6 arcmin, i.e. 133000 x 133000 km at the distance of the comet. North is up and East is to the right. In the image the sun is on the right hand side of the comet.

Comet 9P/Tempel 1

Spectra of Comet 9P/Tempel 1 (EMMI/NTT and UVES/VLT)
A high quality spectrum covering the full optical range has recently been obtained with the UV-Visual Echelle Spectrograph (UVES) at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) KUEYEN telescope at Paranal and will serve as a reference to which post impact data will be compared. This high quality spectrum contains information about the composition of the material coming from the crust of the nucleus and will serve as a reference to which post impact data will be compared. A few days before the UVES observations, two lower resolution spectra were also obtained with EMMI, the spectrograph of the NTT at the La Silla Observatory (Chile). Similiar long-slit spectra will be obtained during the six nights following the date of the impact using the instrument FORS2 mounted on the VLT ANTU telescope at Paranal Observatory. These spectra will allow astronomers at ESO to detect molecules released. See more info on the Looking for molecules page.

Comet 9P/Tempel 1

Comet 9P/Tempel 1 (EMMI/NTT)
New image of Comet 9P/Tempel 1 taken with the EMMI instrument on ESO's New Technology Telescope at La Silla on May 31. The image is rather similar to the one taken one month earlier, which is good news as it indicates no major change in the activity of the comet, making it more easy to discern the effects of the impact. The image was taken as part of the continuous monitoring of the Comet. Read more about it here. Details on how this image was produced from the raw image is also available.

Comet 9P/Tempel 1

Comet 9P/Tempel 1 (1.54m Danish Telescope, La Silla)
Comet Tempel 1 observed, as part of the PLANET collaboration, on June 11 with the Danish 1.54m telescope at ESO, La Silla, Chile. Apart from the comet, a satellite is seen passing right over La Silla, marking its track through the upper right part of the image. The meteor-like trail of the satellite is caused by rapid small-scale changes in the atmosphere during the exposure. The trail is approximately 1 arcminute long, and will have been passed by the satellite in less than a second. During the 800 second long exposure, the telescope was following the comet's movement over the sky, which cause the stars to form small stripes on the exposure. Gas evaporating from the comet, forms the 100,000 km large coma of gas seen in the picture. The Sun is toward the upper left of the picture, causing the elongated form of the comets coma. Here, only 3 weeks before the impact, there is no trace of major gas eruptions in the comet, and it is hoped that this situation will continue until the impact on July 4, because no natural activity from the comet itself, will make it easier to interpret the effect of the man-made impact on July 4. The observer was Uffe Grae Joergensen from the Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark.


You can compare these images with one image taken by the Deep Impact spacecraft.