Comet 174P/Echeclus outburst: evolution of the coma from 29 Aug. to 06 Sept. 2016

Comet 174P/Echeclus underwent a bright, 3-mag. large outburst on 27 Aug. 2016, as reported by P. Camilleri.

174P/Echeclus was discovered in 2000, when it showed stellar appearance and was classified as a Centaur object (with number 60558), but in Dec. 2005 it showed clear cometary features.

Comet 174P/Echeclus outburst: evolution of the coma - 29 Aug., 02 Sept. and 06 Sept. 2016

Comet 174P/Echeclus outburst: evolution of the coma – 29 Aug., 02 Sept. and 06 Sept. 2016

As soon as the outburst was discovered, several observers started closely observing 174P, detecting clear cometary activity. After looking at those reports, at Virtual Telescope we promoted comet 174P up to target of opportunity, giving it the highest priority. We imaged it for the first time on 29 Aug. 2016, thanks to good weather.

The images above come, from left to right, from the average of 5 x 180 seconds, 6 x 300 seconds and again 6 x 300 seconds exposures, respectively and were remotely taken with PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope. On the 6 Sept. image, the coma is at least 40 arc-seconds large.

We will continue observing this intriguing target, hoping the weather will cooperate with us.

It is worth to mention that there are several comets known for their outburst, 17P/Holmes and 29P/Schwassmann-Wachmann being the most famous ones.

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