Captivating image of NEOWISE comet as seen by NASA's Parker Solar Probe released

NEOWISE was observed to have two ion tails, which intrigued researchers as it was unusual for a comet.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) periodically shares images of celestial bodies along with information on astronomical events. The latest in that  has recently put out image of the NEOWISE comet.

The picture was captured by NASA’s Parker Solar Probe using WISPR instrument, used to take images of the sun's outer atmosphere and solar wind in visible light, FoxNews reported.

The Probe captured the twin tails of NEOWISE, also known as C/2020 F3, when it became active just after its closest approach to the Sun. Many comets have two tails – a dust tail and another made of electrically-charged particles. However, in the case of NEOWISE, it was predicted that it has two ion tails, which intrigued researchers.

NASA’s NEOWISE (Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) space telescope, the comet's namesake, discovered the comet on 27 March 2020.

According to NASA, the lower tail is the dust tail of NEOWISE and it is created when dust lifts off the surface of the comet’s nucleus and trails behind it in its orbit.

"The upper tail is the ion tail, which is made up of gases that have been ionized by losing electrons in the Sun’s intense light," the space agency said in the release.

 Captivating image of NEOWISE comet as seen by NASAs Parker Solar Probe released

An unprocessed image from the WISPR instrument on NASA’s Parker Solar Probe shows the comet NEOWISE as of 5 July 2020, soon after its closest approach to the Sun. Image: NASA Goddard

These ionised gases are battered repeatedly by the solar wind. As a result of this, the ion tail is created that extends directly away from the Sun. Scientists speculate that NEOWISE has two ion tails, in addition to its dust tail, but they need more data and analysis to confirm this.

Last month, NASA came up with some simulations showing how the sunset would look on other planets of the solar system. It was created by Geronimo Villanueva, a planetary scientist from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The simulations showed at the time of sunset on Uranus a bright blue colour in the sky fades into royal blue with hints of turquoise. The blue green colour appeared due to the interaction of sunlight with the atmosphere of the planet.

A bright yellow sky turns into orange, brown, and finally black during the sunset on Venus. Mars’ sky becomes a mix of muddy brown and bright yellow as the Sun disappears.

Also read: NASA's planetary scientist create a simulation to show how the different sunsets look like on various planets


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