Astronomers, using Suprime-Cam, Subaru Telescope’s wide-field, prime-focus camera, have managed to capture an image of the intricate flow of Comet Lovejoy’s (C/2013 R1) ion tail.
The instrument’s combination of a wide field of view and high spatial resolution provides a clear delineation of the complex, wiggling streams in the comet’s tail.
At the time of this observation, at around 5:30 am on December 3, 2013 (Hawaii Standard Time), Comet Lovejoy was 50 million miles (80 million km) distant from Earth and 80 million miles (130 million km) away from the Sun.
Comet Lovejoy was discovered in September this year (2013). At dawn on October 31, 2013, Subaru Telescope succeeded in capturing its image, which showed dust jets streaming from its nucleus.
A member of the observation team said that Subaru Telescope offers a rare combination of large telescope aperture and a wide-field camera adding that this enabled them to capture a detailed look at the nucleus while also photogenically framing inner portions of Comet Lovejoy’s impressive ion tail.