Space Science Reviews

, Volume 90, Issue 1–2, pp 83–89 | Cite as

Hale-Bopp and Its Sodium Tails

  • G. Cremonese


The sodium emissions have been observed in several new and long-period comets, but only for comet Mrkos 1957d (Nguyen-Huu-Doan, 1960) was a sodium tail detected on a Schmidt plate obtained with a objective prism. Comet Hale-Bopp 1995 O1 offered the first great opportunity to get an image of a long sodium tail. It was more than 3 × 107 km long, defined as a third type of tail, as it was composed only of neutral atoms (Cremonese, 1997a). After the discovery of the sodium tail another team announced it had observed it (Wilson et al., 1998), but it was soon realized they had seen a different sodium tail. The image of Wilson et al. (1998) showed a very diffuse sodium tail superimposed on the dust tail, most likely due to the release of sodium atoms from dust particles. It was different from the narrow tail found in the image obtained by the European Hale-Bopp Team and its position angle was 15-20 degrees lower. Spectroscopic observations have been performed on the dust tail, at different beta values, and along the narrow sodium tail showing that the sodium emissions had very different line profiles. The analysis of these profiles will yield important insights into the sources in the inner coma and in the dust tail. This work will report on preliminary analysis of both sodium tails and emphasize the high-resolution spectroscopy performed on the dust tail.


Dust Particle Solar Radiation Pressure Extended Source Slit Position Dust Tail 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

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  • G. Cremonese

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