X-ray Emission from Comets

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Science  10 May 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5570, pp. 1042-1045
DOI: 10.1126/science.1070001

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The discovery of x-ray emission from comet Hyakutake was surprising given that comets are known to be cold. Observations by x-ray satellites such as the Röntgen Satellite (ROSAT) indicate that x-rays are produced by almost all comets. Theoretical and observational work has demonstrated that charge-exchange collisions of highly charged solar wind ions with cometary neutral species can explain this emission. X-ray observations of comets and other solar system objects may be used to determine the structure and dynamics of the solar wind.

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