Comet 67P formed by collision of two onion-like objects

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  • Published: Sep 29, 2015
  • Author: Steve Down
  • Channels: UV/Vis Spectroscopy / MRI Spectroscopy / NMR Knowledge Base / Infrared Spectroscopy / Atomic / Raman / Chemometrics & Informatics / Proteomics / Base Peak / X-ray Spectrometry
thumbnail image: Comet 67P formed by collision of two onion-like objects

Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko was created by the collision in space of two smaller objects, say scientists who have studied images from the Rosetta spacecraft that reached the comet last year.

Local variations in the strata from each lobe of the peculiarly shaped comet provided unequivocal evidence, supported by computer modelling. "This points to the layered envelopes in the comet’s head and body forming independently before the two objects merged later," concluded Matteo Massironi, lead author of the report that was published in Nature. "It must have been a low-speed collision in order to preserve such ordered strata to the depths our data imply."

Both lobes of the accreted comet have an outer cover of layered material that extends deep into the surface, possible as far as 650 m. The researchers likened the structure to that of an onion, except that two of these onions grew independently before colliding and becoming fused together.

Image: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0

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