Comet Austin

Right ascension:    0:33:35.1   Magnitude:  10
    Declination:  -56:42:42

Image:  LWP 16977
 Date:  1989 Dec 21 6:21 UT

Exposure duration:  95 min

Comet Austin (1989c1) showed a typical comet spectrum, with hydroxyl emission and continuum arising from it's dust. This illustrates the "dirty snowball" model for comets, suggesting a mixture of dust and various ices. Solar heating causes sublimation (conversion of the ices to vapor), which releases the dust along with the gas. Comet Austin was unusually poor in dust, thus permitting observation of faint emission features arising from the comet's gaseous component, including CS, CO2+, and C2 as well as the OH seen here.
Last updated: 08 April 1998
Obtained from IUE project at Goddard Space Flight Center