These ultraviolet images show the temporal evolution of Comet Hale-Bopp over the course of about one year, as observed by the Hubble Space Telescope. The picture at far-left, captured on September 26, 1995, shows the comet about 60 hours after a huge outburst of dust, which forms the huge light area around the nucleus. This image also shows an impressive spiral structure reminescent of a water sprinkler observed from above. The middle frame, taken on October 23, 1995, shows the comet during a more quiescent phase in which hardly any structure is seen in the tail, or "coma." The image at the far-right, dated September 23, 1996, shows that the comet has now taken on a "porcupine" appearance. At least five jets of dust can be seen sprouting from the nucleus.
The nucleus of the comet is located at the center of
each frame, but most of the light observed is due to scattered sunlight from fine
dust grains that are emitted from the nucleus and which produce the coma.
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