Increasing activity at Comet 67P/C-G

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Data from Rosetta in the past month has been showing a steady and gradual increase in dust emissions from the surface.

While images obtained a few months ago showed distinct jets of dust leaving the comet, these were limited to the ‘neck’ region. More recently, images obtained by Rosetta’s scientific imaging system, OSIRIS, show that dust is being emitted along almost the whole body of the comet. Jets have also been detected on the smaller lobe of the comet. “At this point, we believe that a large fraction of the illuminated comet’s surface is displaying some level of activity,” says OSIRIS scientist Jean-Baptiste Vincent from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany.

The last two images at the link compare the same location with one image overexposed to make the jets visible. What is interesting is that the source of the jet is not evident in the other normally exposed image. It is almost as if surface material is simply heating up and then using that extra energy to simply throw itself off the surface. Why that then forms jets however is puzzling.

More info here.


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