Observations of Comet 73P/Schwassman-Wachmann 3

Observations by Carl Hergenrother (Lunar and Planetary Lab [LPL], University of Arizona & Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory [SAO]), Gil Esquerdo (Planetary Science Institute [PSI] and SAO), Kyle Smalley (SAO) and John Keller (LPL).

Latest News (Updated 2006 May 14, 15:30 UT):

Images of 73P-B from May 14 UT are now up.


73P-B may be experiencing the start of another splitting/outburst event. The main nucleus appears brighter than 2 nights ago. More importantly the appearence of a number of jet-like structures can be seen close to the main nucleus. A smilar display of jets was observed during the May 8 UT outburst. If 73P-B is experiencing another splitting event, the jets will become more obvious over the next 6-24 hours.

The remnants from an earlier splitting event are still visible to the west (due right in the images) of the main nucleus. At least a dozen components are visible. Note that the SAO 1.2-m is a smaller telescope at a sight with inferior seeing to the Vatican 1.8-m on Mount Graham. The 1.2-m should not be expected to see as much detail as the 1.8-m.


The latest images are posted below. Older images of 73P's major components can be found here: 73P-B, 73P-C, 73P-G.

73P-B

73P-B on 2006 May 14.46 UT
SAO 1.2-meter at Mount Hopkins (MPC code 696) with a Sloan i filter
15 x 40-second averaged image (3 brightest pixels rejected to eliminate cosmic rays and stars)
1.4" seeing, photometric
processed display
6.9' by 5.0' FOV (plate scale 0.67" / pixel)


A processed view...

Zoomed in on the main nucleus (processed image)...


73P-C

73P-C on 2006 Apr. 27.47 UT
SAO 1.2-meter at Mount Hopkins (MPC code 696) with a Sloan i filter
20 x 10-second averaged image (brightest pixel rejected to eliminate cosmic rays) 
1.4" seeing, photometric
processed display
6.9' by 5.0' FOV (plate scale 0.67" / pixel)


73P-G

73P-G on 2006 May 4.48 UT
SAO 1.2-meter at Mount Hopkins (MPC code 696) with Sloan i filter
21 x 10-second median averaged image (brightest 5 pixels rejected to eliminate cosmic rays and stars) 
1.5" seeing, non-photometric
processed display
6.7' by 5.8' FOV (plate scale 0.67" / pixel)