A Comet’s Tail Swept Away

"Disconnection Event" by Gerald Rhemann.

On Christmas Day 2021, Comet Leonard put on a show in our skies. Though the comet was a pale streak to the naked eye, photographer Gerald Rhemann caught a striking event: the moment part of the comet’s tail disconnected from its body. The solar wind swept the comet’s gas and dust away. Though I’ve talked about the fluid dynamics of comets before, this image is the most stunning example I’ve seen. It’s no wonder that it won the top prize at the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. (Image credit: G. Rhemann; via Colossal; see also APOTY)

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