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No. 59: Sep-Oct 1988

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"?" ! ?

Photographs of Comet Bradfield taken on October 10, 1987, show an odd kink in its tail that does not appear on photos taken the nights before and after. This kink was shaped like a backwards "?". Kinks in the tails of comets are well known phenomena. A comet's tail is electrically charged, and it flaps in the solar wind like a flag on a gusty day. So why run this observation up the anomaly flagpole? First of all, the Bradfield kink is 10 million kilometers long; second, it appeared and disappeared in a matter of hours. Both size and speed-of-formation are difficult to explain in terms of existing solar-wind velocity and the shifting interplanetary magnetic field.

(Anonymous; "Did Anyone Photograph This Comet?" Astronomy, 16:16, July 1988.) Reference. Similar cometary anomalies are cataloged in ACO in: The Sun and Solar System Debris. For information on this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #59, SEP-OCT 1988. � 1988-2000 William R. Corliss