Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

April 15, 1997
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Hale-Bopp and Plateau de Bure Interferometer
Credit and Copyright:
A. Rambaud, IRAM team, France

Explanation: Comet Hale-Bopp is being observed by many different telescopes. Here the comet is pictured behind the array of radio telescopes which compose the Plateau de Bure Interferometer. These telescopes are being used to detect the presence of different molecules in the coma and tail of Comet Hale-Bopp. Molecules detected in the comet include carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. The abundance of different types of molecules in Comet Hale-Bopp's coma give clues to its composition and history, as well as clues to the composition and history of our Solar System. Comet Hale-Bopp has now rounded the Sun and is headed back out. It can still be seen by northern observers for several weeks in the northwest sky after sunset.

Tomorrow's picture: A Star Cluster Through Hale-Bopp's Tail

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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