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Closest Look Ever at a Comet Exploding in Space – NASA

From start to Finish. A rare glimpse of a “comet outburst” entirely; what an epic cosmic event the comet spontaneously goes into a giant explosion.

NASA’s exoplanet-hunting satellite TESS  captured a time-lapse video of the event
The footage is grainy, but shows the MOST CLEAR start-to-finish event ever, and researchers say it could finally give answers to the mysterious outbursts.

Regarding Comet Outbursts – There are only two leading theories about what causes these events; they are both having to do with the sun vaporizing the comet’s ice surface and propelling the comet forward according to the NASA release.

“Normal comet activity is driven by sunlight vaporizing the ices near the surface of the nucleus, and the outflowing gases drag dust off the nucleus to form the coma. However, many comets are known to experience occasional spontaneous outbursts that can significantly, but temporarily increase the comet’s activity. It is not currently known what causes outbursts, but they are related to the conditions on the comet’s surface. A number of potential trigger mechanisms have been proposed, including a thermal event, in which a heat wave penetrates into a pocket of highly volatile ices, causing the ice to rapidly vaporize and produce an explosion of activity, and a mechanical event, where a cliff collapses, exposing fresh ice to direct sunlight. Thus, studies of the outburst behavior, especially in the early brightening stages that are difficult to capture, can help us understand the physical and thermal properties of the comet.”

Another suggests a sudden heatwave can hit unstable ice, setting off a sudden explosion. Another is that new ice suddenly becomes exposed to — and promptly vaporized by the Sun after the surface of the comet collapses or some other geologic activity occurs.

“We can’t predict when comet outbursts will happen”

University of Maryland astronomer and lead researcher Tony Farnham said in the NASA release.

“But even if we somehow had the opportunity to schedule these observations, we couldn’t have done any better in terms of timing. The outburst happened mere days after the observations started.”

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