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Viewing posts from February, 2010

Recent Outburst of Comet 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann

This comet appears to have undergone another massive outburst, this time on 2010 February 2 increasing in brightness by a factor of 30-40.  The object is one of the largest active comets known.  It follows a near-circular path about 6.2 AU from the Sun, i.e. well beyond the orbit of Jupiter.  This is its fourth outburst of a similar magnitude in the past 8 years.  The nucleus of the comet is probably about 50 km in size and its behaviour may be a consequence of its very slow rotation along with the fact that it appears to be rich in carbon monoxide, a very volatile gas.  The outburst was discovered only a few hours after it had begun by amateur astronomer, Faustino Garcia of Asturias, Spain on February 2nd at 23:58 UT during the course of routine monitoring of several comets.