What caused the interestingly intricate tails that Comet Lemmon displayed earlier this year?
First of all, just about every comet that nears the Sun displays two tails: a
dust tail and an
dust tail, visible above and around the comet nucleus in off-white,
is produced by sun-light reflecting
dust shed by the
comet's heated nucleus.
Flowing and more sculptured, however, is
C/2012 F6 (Lemmon)'s blue
ion tail, created by the
solar wind pushing ions expelled by the nucleus away from the Sun.
Also of note is the coma seen surrounding
Comet Lemmon's nucleus,
tinted green by atomic carbon gas fluorescing in sunlight.
The above image
was taken from the dark skies of
Namibia in mid-April.
Comet Lemmon is fading as it now
heads back to the outer Solar System.
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