MSSL Planetary Science News

Comet studies in the planetary group catch media attention at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting

28 March 2012

Image of comet Hale-Bopp. Credit: ESO/E. Slawick

In a presentation at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester, planetary group PhD student Yudish Ramanjooloo presented his work on using amateur images of comets to infer the properties of the surrounding solar wind. This work was picked up for a media article in Sky at Night online.

Ramanjooloo's work involves looking at the position of a comet plasma and using its position to infer the speed of the solar wind: "One of the really interesting things about comets is that they have two tails. They have a dust tail and a plasma tail. The plasma tail is created by the solar wind. So by studying amateur images of a comet’s plasma tail we can work out what the solar wind is doing." This new technique being pioneered in the planetary group provides a possibility to remotely sense many points in the inner heliosphere, which is important for understanding the origin of the solar wind and validating models of the heliosphere.

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