Friday, February 13, 2009

Something Green This Way Cometh

Comet Lulin is its name. Green is its fame. Astronomers say that, to the best of their knowledge, this comet has never made a trip through our inner solar system previously.
It will make its closest approach to earth on February 24, 2009. At that time, it will pass within 0.41 AU to Earth. That equates to approximately 38 million miles.
What is so curious about this comet is that it glows green due to" the gases that make up its Jupiter-sized atmosphere". Atmosphere? Jupiter-sized?
Who knew comets had "atmosphere"? If it has atmosphere—especially one that is Jupiter-sized—that means it must have some rather remarkable gravity. Does that tell us anything about its mass? This thing must be rather massive.
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