Comet C/2012 X1 (Linear) outburst: image analysis

Comet C/2012 X1 Linear: 25 Oct. 2013

Comet C/2012 X1 Linear: 25 Oct. 2013

As reported a few days ago, comet C/2012 X1 Linear is undergoing a bright outburst (but not enough to make it visible by naked eye). The Virtual Telescope managed to capture a few images at dawn, recording this unusual event.

As a consequence of the outburst, the comet released a dust cloud, now expanding around the nucleus. Something similar, but to a larger scale,  happened in 2007 with comet 17P/Holmes.

Studying the evolution of this phenomenon is of great interest, especially using data covering a suitable time span. For this, we started a collaboration with Ernesto Guido, Nick Howes and Martino Nicolini (Remanzacco Observatory and Faulkes Telescopes Project), joining our data covering the outburst on two different days (21 Oct. – Remanzacco data – and 25 Oct. – Virtual Telescope data).

Careful image processing and analysis was performed by M. Nicolini, using specific algorithms and providing very interesting results, shown in the video below.



In the covered time interval, the dust shell expanded from 113 arcseconds to 202 arcseconds in about 88 hours (3.66 days) corresponding, at the distance of 2.95 Astronomical Units of the comet, to a projected speed of 0.6 km/s. Quite interestingly, this value is similar to the one shown by comet 17P/Holmes in 2007, which resulted constantly around  0.554 +/- 0.005 km/s from October 25.8 to November 1.6 (Yi Lin et al., The Astronomical Journal 138, 625).

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