Outbursting Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) shows jet-like structures in comet's expanding atmosphere


Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) is experiencing powerful outburst, brightening more than 100 times than two weeks ago. This comet is now located in the constellation Coma Berenices, almost 450 million km from Earth, and it is still a relatively easy target for backyard telescopes equipped with digital cameras. 

Comet 2012 X1 imaged on October 23, 2013 by Denis Buczynski in the U.K. (Credit: Denis Buczynski/BAA)

New follow-up images by amateur astronomers show jet-like structures in comet's expanding atmosphere. Amateur astronomer Nick James from Chelmsford, UK, used an 11-inch Celestron telescope on October 26, 2013 when he observed coma's diameter is increasing at a rate of 30 arcseconds per day. LINEAR's coma is expanding over period of two days or 65,000 km/day, which is a little less than 1 km/s.

Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR) captured on October 26, 2013 (Credit: Nick James via SpaceWeather.com gallery)

Located in the constellation Coma Berenices, Comet LINEAR X1 rises in the east about an hour before the Sun. The low altitude of the comet in morning twilight is a challenge, but because the comet is fairly bright, magnitude +8.5, it is still a relatively easy target. 

Orbital elements taken from MPEC 2013-U73 (Credit: Minor Planet Center)

Magnitude graph for Comet c/2012 X1 (LINEAR) (Credit: Aerith)

Featured image: 20 degree rotational gradient x2 scale image of Comet LINEAR X1 on October 26, 2013 (Credit: Nick James)


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