Comets WISE -- A Family Portrait

Wise_wise2011-004_500

WISE_WISE2011-004 February 1st, 2011

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA

During its one-year mission, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, mapped the entire sky in infrared light. Among the multitudes of astronomical bodies that have been discovered by the NEOWISE portion of the WISE mission are 20 comets.

This collage shows those 20 new comets all together in a kind of family portrait. Most of the comets are named WISE. In three cases, the comet does not bear the name WISE because the object was known before to be an asteroid. The WISE observations revealed their true nature. These objects did not turn out to be stony and/or metallic space rocks as is the case for asteroids. Instead, they were shown to be comets -- snowy dust balls with clouds of dust and gas surrounding them.

When most people think of comets, they think of the popular images of Halley's Comet or Comet Hale-Bopp, with bright, enormous tails. A comet tail forms as the object travels closer to the Sun. The ices in the comet are heated and become a gas, escaping the surface of the comet and lifting dust particles away as well. This fuzzy cloud around the comet nucleus is called a coma. As a comet gets closer and closer to the Sun, the solar wind and sunlight push the coma away, forming the long tail.

Comets are named by the International Astronomical Unions Minor Planet Center, and the names indicate the circumstances of discovery. The designations of the comets in the collage, from left to right, top to bottom are: 237P/LINEAR (2002 LN13), 233P/La Sagra (2009 WJ50), P/2009 WX51 (Catalina), P/2010 B2 (WISE), P/2010 D1 (WISE), P/2010 D2 (WISE), C/2010 D3 (WISE), C/2010 D4 (WISE), C/2010 DG56 (WISE), C/2010 E3 (WISE), C/2010 FB87 (WISE-Garradd), C/2010 G3 (WISE), C/2010 J4 (WISE), P/2010 K2 (WISE), C/2010 KW7 (WISE), 245P/WISE (2010 L1), C/2010 L4 (WISE), C/2010 L5 (WISE), P/2010 N1 (WISE), and P/2010 P4 (WISE).

The fuzzy background in each picture is due to random fluctuations in infrared light, primarily from dust in our own Solar System. Stars cannot be seen because they are subtracted out during the process of combining multiple WISE pictures together to make this view centered on the moving comets.

The colors in the pictures are representational. Infrared light of 4.6, 12 and 22 microns is colored blue, green and red, respectively. The light emitted from comets in infrared is due to their temperatures, so the cooler objects appear to have more red, while warmer objects will appear more bluish.

Image Source: /image/WISE/WISE2011-004

Curator: Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, Berkeley, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Pulic Domain

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
2002LN13 2009WJ50 2009WX51 2010B2 2010D1 2010D2 2010D3 2010D4 2010DG56 2010E3 2010FB87 2010G3 2010J4 2010K2 2010KW7 2010L2 2010L4 2010L5 2010N1 2010P4
Subject - Solar System
Interplanetary Body » Comet
Wise_wise2011-004_128
 

Position Details

Position
RA = 0h 0m 0.0s
DEC = 0° 0’ 0.0”
Orientation
North is up
Field of View
0.0 x 0.0 arcminutes
Constellation
Pisces

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Arrow_left_blue WISE Infrared (Near-IR) 4.6 µm
Arrow_left_green WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 12.0 µm
Arrow_left_red WISE Infrared (Mid-IR) 22.0 µm
Spectrum_ir1
Arrow_top_blue
Arrow_top_green
Arrow_top_red
Wise_wise2011-004_1280
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ID
WISE2011-004
Subject Category
A.2.2.  
Subject Name
2002LN13, 2009WJ50, 2009WX51, 2010B2, 2010D1, 2010D2, 2010D3, 2010D4, 2010DG56, 2010E3, 2010FB87, 2010G3, 2010J4, 2010K2, 2010KW7, 2010L2, 2010L4, 2010L5, 2010N1, 2010P4
Credits
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
/image/WISE/WISE2011-004
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
WISE, WISE, WISE
Instrument
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Infrared, Infrared, Infrared
Bandpass
Near-IR, Mid-IR, Mid-IR
Central Wavelength
4600, 12000, 22000
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
Equinox
Reference Value
,
Reference Dimension
,
Reference Pixel
,
Scale
,
Rotation
Coordinate System Projection:
Quality
FITS Header
Notes
12.5 arcminute field of view
Creator (Curator)
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
URL
http://wise.astro.ucla.edu
Name
Email
outreach@ssl.berkeley.edu
Telephone
Address
7 Gauss Way
City
Berkeley
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
94720
Country
USA
Rights
Pulic Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
WISE
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/WISE/WISE2011-004
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2012-10-10 17:36:19 -0700
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

 

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There is no distance meta data in this image.