NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 28 January 2023: Comet ZTF over Mount Etna | Tech News

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day 28 January 2023: Comet ZTF over Mount Etna

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day for 28 January, 2023 snaps a breathtaking image of Comet ZTF over Mount Etna.

| Updated on: Jan 28 2023, 12:19 IST
Where do comets come from?
Green Comet
1/6 Most comets come from the Kuiper belt, a region beyond the orbit of Neptune comets from this neighborhood usually take 200 years or less to make one orbit around the sun. These are called short-period comets. (NASA)
Green Comet
2/6 Comets also come from their other hangout Oort cloud, a far-far-distant cloud, sending some flying into the inner solar system. (Pixabay)
Green Comet
3/6 When they are at home in the Oort cloud or Kuiper belt comets are just dull, dark chunks of ice, dust, and rock. In this state, they may not be much different from asteroids. (NASA/MSFC/Aaron Kingery)
image caption
4/6 Sometimes the gravitational pull of a planet can disturb comets in the Kuiper Belt and fly one headlong toward the sun. Notably, Jupiter's strong gravity can turn a long-period comet into a short-period one. (NASA)
Green Comet
5/6 The Sun's gravitational pull takes over, shaping the comet's path into an elliptical orbit. The comet travels faster and faster as it nears the sun swings and goes around close to the backside, then heads back to more or less where it came from. (Pixabay)
image caption
6/6 What makes comets look fuzzy and have tails? As comets get closer to the sun and begin to warm up, some of their materials start to boil off. This material forms a cloud around the nucleus. The cloud is called the coma and may stretch over hundreds of thousands of miles across. (NASA)
Green Comet
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It will be increasingly visible to the naked eye, but binoculars or a small telescope will help to make the view of Comet ZTF even more enjoyable for you. (Image Credit & Copyright: Dario Giannobile)

The magnificent green Comet ZTF is all set for its closest approach to Earth after 50000 years. Astronomy enthusiasts are sharing amazing pictures and other information about Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF as it gets closer. In the past few weeks, US space agency NASA itself has shown a few glimpses of Comet E3. Now, NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day for January 28 brings a breathtaking view of the Comet ZTF over Mount Etna.

“Comet-like plumes are blowing over the volcanic peaks of Mount Etna in this wintry mountain-and-skyscape from planet Earth. The stacked and blended combination of individual exposures recorded during the cold night of January 23, also capture naked-eye Comet ZTF just above Etna's snowy slopes,” NASA said.

Comet ZTF current location

NASA has confirmed that this weekend Comet ZTF is racing across northern skies between north star Polaris and the Big Dipper. “From a dark site you can only just spot it as a fuzzy patch though. That's still an impressive achievement if you consider you are gazing at a visitor from the distant Oort cloud with your own eyes,” NASA added.

However, using some binoculars or a small telescope will help to make the view of Comet ZTF even more enjoyable in the coming days. Comet ZTF is said to make its closest approach on February 2, coming to within about 2.4 light-minutes of our planet.

Why it was named Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF

With the help of a 48-inch (1.2-meter) Samuel Oschin robotic telescope, astronomers discovered Comet C/2022 E3 ZTF on March 2, 2022. The telescope is part of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), located at Mt. Palomar in southern California. The green comet was the 3rd celestial object found in the fifth month (A, B, C, D, E) of the year. And that's how it got its name- Comet 2022 E3 (ZTF).

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First Published Date: 28 Jan, 12:18 IST