CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Christmas Gift Guide
Tech Industry

Images: The faraway comet and the gigantic planet

Scientists capture their first photo of the comet Tempel 1. Also: A planet with five times the mass of Jupiter.

The faraway comet and the gigantic planet

Sixty-nine days before it's scheduled to come into contact with a comet, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has taken its first photo of the mass, known as Tempel 1. The image, at right, was captured from a distance of 39.7 million miles. Deep Impact is on a mission to release an "impactor" that will collide with Tempel 1 as part of an attempt to reveal new information about the composition of comets and how the solar system was formed.

Credit: NASA

Tempel 1

The faraway comet and the gigantic planet

An artist's rendition shows, from right, the Deep Impact craft, the impactor and Tempel 1. The impactor is expected to strike the comet about 24 hours after being released by the main craft. The event, planned for July 4, is meant to create a crator in Tempel 1 that could be as small as a house or as large as a football stadium.

Credit: NASA

artist's rendition

The faraway comet and the gigantic planet

At right is an artist's rendition of the upcoming collision, during which Deep Impact is expected to capture "the best, most detailed images of a comet ever taken," Michael A'Hearn, Deep Impact principal investigator, said in a statement. Since the composition of the comet isn't believed to have altered much since the formation of the solar system, the data is expected to provide valuable clues about that process. (The image at right was created by artist Pat Rawlings.)

Credit: NASA

artist's rendition

The faraway comet and the gigantic planet

The impactor is a 370-kilogram structure with an onboard guidance system. The device will be traveling at a speed of 10 kilometers per second when it strikes Tempel 1. The impactor will be aiming for a spot on the comet that's less than 6 kilometers in diameter.

Credit: NASA

impactor

The faraway comet and the gigantic planet

An international team of astronomers have confirmed the existence of a very large planet about 200 light-years from earth. Images of the planet--which has about five times the mass of Jupiter--were captured in February and March by the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in northern Chile. The planet is gravitationally bound to a brown dwarf star, known as 2M1207. In the image here, the star is on the right, the planet on the left.

Credit: ESO

planet and brown dwarf

The faraway comet and the gigantic planet

An artist's rendering of the planet and the brown dwarf. The distance between the planet and the brown dwarf is 55 times as great as that between the Earth and its sun.

Credit: ESO

artist's rendition

The faraway comet and the gigantic planet

The same technology used to identify the new planet was used to study the AB Pictoris star (center right), and its companion (bottom left).

Credit: ESO

AB Pictoris

The faraway comet and the gigantic planet

The ESO's Very Large Telescope is made up of four "unit telescopes," the first of which became operational in 1999. Last year, 338 refereed papers relied on data from the Very Large Telescope.

Credit: ESO

the ESO's Very Large Telescope