Infrared image of Comet Hale-Bopp at wavelength of 10.3 microns shows the comet and submicron-size dust grains being ejected from the surface as the comet is warmed by the sun. Some of the grains are crystalline, in contrast to the more amorphous structure of the rest, indicating that the grains were subjected to strong heating sometime in their history, before they were incorporated into the frozen comet nucleus about 4.5 billion years ago.

This photo was taken using a combination spectrograph-camera designed and built at Cornell University for the 200-inch telescope at Mt. Palomar.



Image:Tom Hayward, Cornell University, and Martha S. Hanner, JPL-NASA

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