Research Articles

Discovery of X-ray and Extreme Ultraviolet Emission from Comet C/Hyakutake 1996 B2

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Science  11 Oct 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5285, pp. 205-209
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5285.205


During its close approach to Earth, comet C/Hyakutake 1996 B2 was observed at extreme ultraviolet and x-ray wavelengths with the Rœntgen X-ray Satellite and Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer. The emission morphology was symmetric with respect to a vector from the comet's nucleus toward the sun, but not symmetric around the direction of motion of the comet with respect to interplanetary dust. A slowly varying emission and a large impulsive event that varied on time scales of 1 to 2 hours were observed. An interaction between the comet and the solar wind/solar magnetic field seems to be the most likely mechanism for the observed emission.