Comet Lulin Video – Watch the Outgassing Process

Roughly 38 million miles from Earth and traveling at a relative velocity of 140,000 miles per hour, the speedy Comet C/2007 N3 Lulin has caught our imaginations in a big way during the beginning months of the International Year of Astronomy. Right now, Comet Lulin has already sped past the Sun, slipped by stately Saturn from our point of view and is on a parabolic trajectory heading out from our solar system. This means it will never come back…

It won’t be long before Comet Lulin becomes just another inter-stellar object… and even less time before the Moon light and poor position steals it from our view. Thanks to Joe Brimacombe, right now one of the most fascinating aspects of studying Comet Lulin as been watching its activity as it spews a hydroxyl/cyanogen gas cloud spanning over 250,000 miles across the starry background. It’s being fed by an out gassing rate of 800 gallons of “water” each second – that’s enough liquid to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool in less than 15 minutes.

Yes, Comet Lulin has certainly had its fifteen minutes of fame… And since it’s not a periodic comet, it won’t be long until Lulin and all its mysteries are soon gone from view. Its strange orbital geometry with a small inclination, has put it nearly on the same plane as the our solar system for a short time – giving us a long-lived anti-tail appearance as the ion tail and dust tail fan out from either side of the Oort cloud visitor. Solar wind? Plasma? We could debate for far longer on what’s caused what we can see that Lulin is going to hang around for…

Because it won’t be long until all that’s left is the view of Lulin’s cosmic “tail lights” as it speeds away.

6 Replies to “Comet Lulin Video – Watch the Outgassing Process”

  1. Oh no, that word is there again: “plasma”.
    I bet that this word will be used again in some wild theory that has 1000 more holes than standard model as proof. πŸ˜‰

    On topic, I think scientists are analyzing the tails, it might take some time to get the results processed.

  2. Assuming that the speed in m/h is correct, I make it about 62 km/sec (that’s the way of putting it I can relate to best), and I am completely blown out of my seat trying to relate this to familiar travel distances.
    NY to LA in a minute – unbelievable!!!!

    I can’t remember having heard of anything in the solar system moving faster…. well, I guess that’s why it’s being kicked out, πŸ˜‰

  3. absolutely amazing, one of the few celestial bodies humans can vividly see in time-laps. wouldn’t it be awesome to see a time-laps of a super-nova?

  4. Awesome. That 800 gallons per second, although it may seem alot, probably would not shrink the size of the comet by more than a few meters, but according to previous feeds
    on Comet Lulin , the comet is saying good-by forever. (I know forever is a strong word, but in millions of years from now, some other star will ‘grab and embrace’ Comet Lulin to the comets’ eventual demise!!)

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