Comet C/2012 X1 (LINEAR): image of the outburst (25 Oct. 2013)
It is well known that comets are unpredictable by nature. While to world is closely monitoring comet C/2012 S1 Ison, comet C/2012 X1 Linear decided to put its own show, in a season exceptionally offering an handful of fairly bright comets (comets 2P/Encke, C/2013 R1 Lovejoy and C/2012 S1 Ison).
A few days ago, comet C/2012 X1 was spotted while emerging at dawn from the solar glare and was found about 6 magnitudes brighter than expected! This is what we call an “outburst” and comets show from time to time similar behavior (as the exceptional case of comet 17P/Holmes in 2007).
Above is an image captured at twilight with the PlaneWave 17″ robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope. It is the average of four, 60-seconds exposures and shows very well the expanding dust cloud around the false nucleus. Some structures are also visible without any processing (the image above was just calibrated, without any other enhancement).
Below, the same image was processed with a rotational gradient, extracting the pattern around the central condensation, already visible in the original data:
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