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The Rosetta science team has released a detailed analysis of the jets and outbursts that they observed coming from Comet 67P/C-G during the comet’s close approach to the Sun.
Brief but powerful outbursts seen from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko during its most active period last year have been traced back to their origins on the surface.
In the three months centred around the comet’s closest approach to the Sun, on 13 August 2015, Rosetta’s cameras captured 34 outbursts. These violent events were over and above regular jets and flows of material seen streaming from the comet’s nucleus. The latter switch on and off with clockwork repeatability from one comet rotation to the next, synchronised with the rise and fall of the Sun’s illumination.
By contrast, outbursts are much brighter than the usual jets – sudden, brief, high-speed releases of dust. They are typically seen only in a single image, indicating that they have a lifetime shorter than interval between images – typically 5–30 minutes. A typical outburst is thought to release 60–260 tonnes of material in those few minutes.
They have also released a new image taken by the navigation camera of Rosetta’s September 30th landing zone.