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martes, febrero 24, 2009


Hot Comet Lulin, originalmente cargada por amadeusmusicinstruction.

Comet C/2007 N3 (Lulin), also known as Comet Lulin, is a non-periodic comet. It was discovered by Ye Quanzhi and Lin Chi-Sheng from Lulin Observatory. It peaked in brightness and arrived at perigee for observers on Earth on February 24, 2009, at magnitude +5, and at 0.411 AU from Earth.[3] The comet also appeared to pass near Saturn on February 23, and is predicted to pass near Regulus in Leo on February 26 and 27, 2009. It is expected to appear to pass near Comet Cardinal on May 12, 2009. It currently lies 0.412 AU from Earth, appearing at magnitude +5.2 in the constellation Leo. The comet became visible to the naked eye from dark-sky sites around February 7. It passed between Earth and the double star Zubenelgenubi on February 6, between Earth and Spica on February 15 and 16, between earth and Gamma Virginis on February 19 and is predicted to pass between Earth and the star cluster M44 around March 4 and 5.

C/2007 N3 (Lulin)
Discovered by: Ye Quanzhi, Lin Chi-Sheng[1][2]
Discovery date: July 11, 2007[1][2]
Alternate designations: Comet Lulin
Orbital characteristics A
Epoch: 2454656.5
(July 9, 2008)[3]
Aphelion distance: 269391.899 AU[4]
Perihelion distance: 1.212128714036556 AU[3]
Semi-major axis: -5333.165975608617 AU[3]
Eccentricity: 1.000227281265871[3]
Orbital period: 49435956 Julian years[4]
Inclination: 178.3729945601338°[3]
Last perihelion: January 10, 2009[5]
Next perihelion: Unknown


The comet was first photographed by astronomer Lin Chi-Sheng (林啟生) with a 16-inch telescope at the Lulin Observatory in Nantou, Taiwan on July 11, 2007. However, a 19-year old student, Ye Quanzhi (葉泉志) from Sun Yat-sen University in China, identified the new object from three of the photographs taken by Lin.

Initially, the object was thought to be an asteroid, but new images taken a week after the discovery revealed the presence of a faint coma.

The discovery occurred as part of the Lulin Sky Survey project to identify small objects in the Solar System, particularly Near-Earth Objects. The comet was named "Comet Lulin" after the observatory, and its official designation is Comet C/2007 N3.


Astronomer Brian Marsden of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory calculated that Comet Lulin reached its perihelion on January 10, 2009, at a distance of 113 million miles (182 million kilometers) from the Sun.

The orbit of Comet Lulin is very nearly a parabola, according to Marsden. It is moving in a retrograde orbit at a very low inclination of just 1.6° from the ecliptic.

Disconnected tail

On February 4, 2009, a team of Italian astronomers witnessed "an intriguing phenomenon in Comet Lulin's tail." Team leader Ernesto Guido explains: "We photographed the comet using a remotely-controlled telescope in New Mexico, and our images clearly showed a disconnection event. While we were looking, part of the comet's plasma tail was torn away."

Guido and colleagues believe the event was caused by a magnetic disturbance in the solar wind hitting the comet. Magnetic mini-storms in comet tails have been observed before—most famously in 2007 when NASA's STEREO spacecraft watched a coronal mass ejection crash into Comet Encke. Encke lost its tail in dramatic fashion, much as Comet Lulin did on February 4.




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