Institute for Astronomy Home
IFA Home Page   |    Search   |    Other Editions    No. 16 - 2005 
  All Articles  


False-Color Image of Comet Tempel 1


This false-color image shows Comet Tempel 1 about 50 minutes after Deep Impact's probe smashed into its surface. The impact site is located on the far side of the comet in this view. The image was taken by the flyby spacecraft's high-resolution camera as it turned back to face the comet for one last photo opportunity.

The colors represent brightness, with white indicating the brightest materials and black showing the faintest materials. The brightness is a measure of reflected sunlight.

Because the sunlit portion of the comet is brighter, it appears white. The comet's nucleus is silhouetted against the light reflected from surrounding dust.

The large plume of dust that was kicked up upon impact can be seen as the colorful, drop-shaped object. This plume was very bright, indicating that the comet's surface material must be very fine, like talcum powder.

The blue speck in the lower right corner is a star.